During his childhood, Myles Jarrow traveled to many places with his family using streetcars, interurbans, and intercity trains. His earliest memories of riding streetcars in Chicago dated back to the mid-1920s. Among other local attractions, he enjoyed visiting the Balaban & Katz movie palaces, the various museums, and the Municipal Pier (now called Navy Pier). But observing and riding the colorful streetcars mesmerized him more than anything else.
Outside of Chicago, Myles was fortunate to experience firsthand many of the streetcar and interurban lines that still operated during the early years of the Depression. Decades later, he would lament not having gotten into photography. But Myles’ photographic memory did a fine job of preserving intricate details from those trips. He prudently saved timetables, brochures, and other memorabilia from his travels.
Apart from being involved in his family’s company which manufactured refrigerator door gaskets, Myles dabbled briefly in transportation. He and his friend Frank Butts operated a small bus company in Lincoln, Illinois after World War II.
Myles joined the fledgling Central Electric Railfans’ Association back in 1938. Remarkably, his involvement with CERA would span three-quarters of a century! As Member #23, he was the last surviving member to attend the early meetings. Myles was a gifted speaker who would pair his lucid memories with images from various photographers. He gave several excellent, memorable programs at CERA through the years.
Myles’ passion for travel continued well into the 21st Century with trips to Europe as well as visits to USA cities with streetcars and light rail. Reduced mobility in later years did not deter him from attending CERA meetings, visiting IRM, or enjoying social visits with friends. His energy and youthful spirit transcended his 92 years. On a more personal level, Myles was a longtime friend. We will miss his always-upbeat attitude, companionship, enthusiasm for the hobby, and great sense of humor. A walking ‘time capsule’ of Chicago in the ’30s and later, Myles was an interviewee for the book Downtown Chicago in Transition, co-authored by Eric Bronsky and Neal Samors.
Myles passed away on Sunday, December 21. He bequeathed his extensive collection of books and paper items to the Illinois Railway Museum. A memorial service is being planned for Tuesday, December 30 at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois. Details are forthcoming.
— Eric Bronsky