In casting about for a good Z-word, I landed on “zephyr,” which means “a gentle breeze from the west” or “any of various lightweight fabrics and articles of clothing.” It comes from the Greek god Zephyrus, god of the west wind.I thought that second definition was especially appealing; I’d never heard of “zephyr” in relation to clothing. In my research I found little information about the clothing-type zephyr, but I did chance upon the California Zephyr, and that will suit just dandy as we close out the AtoZ Challenge for this month.
The California Zephyr had its origins in 1939 with a train called the Exposition Flyer, which carried passengers to the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco. At first the Flyer was meant to be temporary, but it proved so popular that it was kept in operation. In 1949 it was updated and given the name California Zephyr. The hostesses were called “Zephyrettes.” A joint project of the CB&Q, Denver and Rio Grande Western, and Western Pacific Railroads, the California Zephyr ran from Chicago to Denver to Salt Lake City to Oakland. It ceased operations for a time in 1970. Today’s California Zephyr, run by Amtrak, follows largely the same route as the original east to Salt Lake City.
Here’s a delightful travelogue of the luxurious California Zephyr. in the 1950s.