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by Charles R. Lowe

Not only was it an autumn day when Steve Maguire trained his camera on northbound RTC 1009, it was the autumn of Rochester's streetcar system as well. The day was November 5, 1940, and Maguire was diligently recording the action in the final few months of Rochester's streetcars. Hardly six months later, on April 1, 1941, surface streetcar operations in Rochester would grind to a halt. Capturing streetcars in action was tough even on sunny days with the slow-speed films of the era (Verichrome Pan, the railfans' almost universal choice of film, had an ASA rating of 50 in those days), but an overcast day such as what Maguire faced in November, 1940 required extra effort if acceptable
      Rochester Transit Corp 1009        Photo by Stephen D. Maguire

photographs were to be obtained. On a gray day, if one wanted a sharp photo, the streetcar definitely had to be at a complete stop to allow a slow enough shutter speed that an adequate exposure would be made. A tripod and a known stopping point of the streetcar, to permit accurate focusing, could also be helpful. In his previous trips to Rochester, Maguire had favored the Dewey line with its unusual Surface-Subway operation, so it is not surprising that he knew of the New York Central's at-grade crossing of Dewey Avenue just south of Ridge Road. Here, streetcars were required to come to a full stop to insure the crossing was truly clear of steam trains, automatic crossing gates not being in place. Rochester railfan John G. Woodbury, who lived nearby on Steko Avenue, may also have mentioned this spot to Maguire. Correcting for the gray day as best he could, Maguire stood ready as car 1009 ambled its way north to Dewey loop at Ridge Road. His film was advanced and his camera's shutter was cocked. A truck threatening to pull out in front of 1009, respecting the passing streetcar, paused at the curb much to Maguire's relief. Maguire resorted to his well-practiced photography stance, with the camera held steadily at chest height; sixty-four years later, the slightly-tipped image, a sign that a tripod had not been used, would be cropped for our version. Car 1009 came to a quick stop at the railroad, Maguire held his breath and clicked the shutter. Having been preserved, 1009 quickly continued on its way.