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THE GREYHOUND STORY From Hibbing to Everywhere Oscar Schisgall

April 2nd, 2009 · · Book Reviews, Captioned Photo

While I was researching the topic of sighthounds, greyhounds in particular, I of course searched the library catalogue under subject “greyhound”. There were four hits. Three of them have been reviewed as a trio of books about retired racing greyhounds. This is the fourth.
It is not about dogs. It is about buses. But ever since my interest in greyhounds has been awakened I get a small thrill from seeing the greyhound on the side of a bus. A little smile, oh yes, I think. I know what a greyhound is like and I certainly delight in the visual beauty of one running flat out as portrayed on the side of the bus. Since my reading and researching often seems to be an organic process fueled by free association, curiosity and chance why not read the fourth book ?

‘The Greyhound Story’
documents the growth and development of a very successful business. Founded in 1914 by a Swedish immigrant named Carl Eric Wickman, the bus line expanded its service until in 1939 the figures were presented at the annual stockholder’s meeting indicating that the company’s gross income for the year had been $55,989,765 with a net income of $6,562,802. Greyhound employed, at that point, close to 10,000 people. The history of the company’s expansion, under the direction of several executive officers, is related in great detail. By the mid ’80′s Greyhound had become one of the largest leasing companies in the world. Various international subsidiaries lease aircraft, supply vessels, and oil drilling rigs, among other things.It may be said that the key to the success of Greyhound Corporation has been diversification.

Lady Greyhound

Lady Greyhound

One of the most interesting aspects of this book, as far as I’m concerned, are the photographs of the buses or ‘motor stages’ as they were initially called. Stages because what they replaced were stage coaches! It was not until the 1930s that the now traditional image of the racing greyhound first appeared on the exterior of buses. In 1957 the company introduced a mascot, Lady Greyhound, who attired in a wide rhinestone collar and tiara, made public appearances at various charity events, was named America’s canine symbol by the American Humane Association. And (this is my favourite) she opened the brand new Greyhound terminal in Detroit by biting through a ribbon of dog biscuits! It was reassuring for me to discover that there was an actual dog involved in this story somewhere. “Once, when someone commented that Greyhound’s president ‘worked like a dog,’ his secretary said , ‘But not as hard as the dog.’ ”


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