The question sometimes comes up of whether anyone has a complete collection of CERA bulletins. Yes, Virginia, there are at least two that we know of. The organization has a complete set, kept in a safe deposit box, and one of older members has another.
But here’s where things get a bit more complicated. What constitutes a complete set? To date, we have published 145 bulletins, the latest being Transit In the Triangle volume 1. But there were also publications under the heading of “Trolley Sparks,” that did not get counted as bulletins.
Trolley Sparks from June 1947, aka CERA bulletin #71, with a cover shot of a Dallas double-end PCC car. Eventually these cars wound up in Boston.
One of our members asks, “I am trying to complete a collection of CERA/Troley Sparks publications and I was wonder if issues: 1944 Aug #1, Dec #5, 1945-Jan #6, Feb #7, and Mar #8 were ever published?”
Here is the reply from longtime member Ray DeGroote:
There has always been confusion over the term “Trolley Sparks” in conjunction with CERA Bulletins. It is my understanding that Barney Neuberger, as his own publication, issued news sheets titled “Trolley Sparks” starting around 1944. Then he must have joined with George Krambles, a good friend of his, to publish items under the CERA name but still calling some issues “Trolley Sparks” until the name drops out and “Bulletins” is used exclusively.
An official list of CERA publications dated 1951 shows Trolley Sparks listed with T numbers. The first one is T-12 of July 1945, followed by T-13 in August, T-14 in September, T-15 in October, and T-16 in November. B-62 is issued in November and B-63 in December.
Then for December, 1945 there is T-2-1 followed by T-2-3 through T-2-8 each month through July, 1946. Then comes B-64 in August, followed by T-2-9,10 Aug-Sep. (one combined issue). Numbering resumes with T-2-11 for October and T-2-12 for November which also has B-65.
T-3-1 shows for Dec. 1946 and T-3-2 for Jan. 1947. After that there are no more issues showing a T, just B for Bulletins, the first being 66 and continuing up to today’s B-145.
There is no short answer to the gentleman’s question. My guess is that Barney Neuberger did issue something with numbers 1, 5, 6, 7, and 8 (maybe also 9 and 10) but I have never seen any of them. Unfortunately most of the older members who might know the answer are gone.
So, there are issues of Trolley Sparks that were not put out by CERA, and there are others that were put out by CERA, with more than one numbering system. Finally, there were issues of Trolley Sparks that were numbered as bulletins. Trolley Sparks included shorter bits of news, rather than the more in-depth approach of our usual bulletins.
With our 75th anniversary this year, CERA will put out a special publication to commemorate this. This book, which will not count as the yearly membership entitlement, will go out under the heading of Trolley Sparks #1, in tribute to the rich history of our early publications. More information will follow as details become available.
The July 1947 issue of Trolley Sparks, aka CERA Bulletin #72, shows Illinois Terminal car #103 in limited service between Alton and St. Louis.