Storytime with Charlie

Charlie Mar 31, 2007

  1. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I'm reading a wonderfully written story from the June 1982 Trains Magazine entitled Recollections of An Omaha Road Brasspounder, by Ken C. Brovald. The author worked as an Agent and telegrapher across much of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Rwy. beginning in 1949 and I've learned a lot about his craft and the extensive duties performed by a station Agent. These also included working Western Union telegraphs for local citizens.

    Perhaps someone can answer a question that remains in my mind about inbound Western Union telegrams. Upon receipt of a W.U. telegram and with its typing complete, how did the telegram find its way into the hands of the receipient? Did W.U. employ a runner? Did people routinely stop by the depot to see if they had a telegram? I'm guessing that the Agent would not have had time to run around town to make deliveries and that mailing the telegram would seem somewhat counterproductive.

    The Trains story contains this photo by Fred H. Ragsdale taken in 1947. Not sure why the Rapid City Journal claims 1930 in the photo here:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
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  2. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    Yes Western Union employed delivery people. They would hand deliver the telegram, and take a reply if you wished. The normal custom was to offer a small tip to the messenger. A sad chapter in U.S. history is that telegrams notifying relatives of the death, serious wounds or illness and "missing in action" messages were sent by Western Union during major conflicts. Military Police also delivered messages like that.
     
  3. minesweeper

    minesweeper TrainBoard Member

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    I read in a book that in these cases the delivery people did not accept any tip out of respect for the family...

    Inviato dal mio BLN-L21 utilizzando Tapatalk
     
  4. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    i would guess that to be true, but for normal deliveries a small tip was usually offered and accepted.
     
  5. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    Well everyone, here it is again, time for me to take my annual Lenten exit. I hope to be with you again on or about Easter. If anything of major importance comes up you can send me an e-mail as I continue to check that. Be kind to each other. Enjoy the hobby and be safe and legal while doing it.
    See you soon!

    Charlie T.
     
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  6. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    Hello all!

    I'm back.

    Ready to accept any and all questions or comments you have!

    Charlie
     
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  7. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    Glad you are back Charlie. Hope all is well and you had a great Easter! Would love to hear any story you are in the mood to share. :)
     
  8. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    May have told this one before....When I was in Conductor training in Overland Park KS, our instructor told us that the best way to impress an engineer was to bring him Chocolate chip/black walnut cookies. That got a laugh out of the class. The VERY FIRST qualifying job I worked when I came back to Chicago was a day shift yard job at Cicero Yard. I met the foreman and switchman and after our safety briefing, we went to get our power for the job. When we climbed aboard the motor, the hogger was sitting there eating chocolate chip cookies! I am not making this up! LOL
     
  9. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

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    Charlie, I always admire your Lenten retreat and glad you are back. My Lent was very different this year as was everyone else's with churches closed and Mass not being said.
     
  10. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    A former pastor, at his new church, has a blog and he broadcasts the daily mass. I watched the Holy Week services thru his blog. To tie this into a railroad theme, our church is a block west of the former GTW RR main line from Chicago east to Canada. it is roughly 1 1/2 miles So. of what used to be Elsdon Yard. If you scan around, look for the streamlined U3b Lima built 4-8-4s that the GTW owned. Beauties used to pull the passenger trains on that main line. the Chicago Lawn station at 63rd St was only a couple of blocks away. The station building was razed a year ago unfortunately.
     
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  11. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    That is the mark of a true professional. High proficiency is required for such an exacting move like that, with that much train!
     
  12. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    Other than tell stories, how do railroaders pass the time while waiting in the hole for opposing/higher priority traffic? Perhaps "Taking some spot time"?
     
  13. Keith

    Keith TrainBoard Supporter

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    What happens if you’re in the middle of nowhere, no siding in sight, and
    reach your allowable work hours?? Or do you stop at closest siding, before
    hours run out?
     
  14. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    Usually taking "spot time" but not much. One is in the siding for a reason. The crew is required by rule to do a "roll=by' inspection of the passing trains, so the conductor or brakeman is on the ground on the far side. a safe distance from the train, while the hogger remains in the cab to "eyeball" the near side of the passing train. One of the conductors I worked with carried past issues from his "Playboy" magazine library in his grip. When we took the siding he passed out the mags. If it was know that we would be "in the hole" for an extended period AND some sort of food venue was nearby, we would call the dispatcher for permission to send someone for "beans" Experienced crews carried printed menus in their grips for restaurants and fast food places known to be nearby the sidings on their routes. When the weather was nice ,go outside on the ROW and take walk or have a smoke.
     
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  15. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    Any favorite memory of a practical joke played on someone that you would care to share?
     
  16. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    It all depends and contingent on the dispatcher. If (s)he has a lot of moves, (s)he wont want you "croaking" on the main
    another factor is the ability to access the main from the nearest Highway. The companies that provide the transport services train their crews and should know all the access points along your route. There have been many instances of drivers getting lost or not being able to find the access point. i had that happen to me right here in Chicago when I was with a road switcher job doing a transfer to another railroad. I was the brakeman and I was set out in the new intermodal yard of the CSX in the West Englewood neighborhood. I was to restore switches, take the transport van and rejoin the crew at another location. Our dispatcher asked me if I knew my surroundings and I did. Quite well in fact. This was the area that was one the PRR Panhandle yard and roundhouse. The (former) B & O main were the tracks on the west side of the yard. You can read my story about my New Years Eve childhood memories of this yard in a past issues of S.W.C. At any rate the van driver was having some difficulty in locating me. He had a company radio. and I wound up giving him direction. By this time I was done with my moves and was down on the street. I told the driver that when he makes his left turn he will see me waving at him. I then had to give him instructions to the next point. I was on a student qualifying trip to LaCrosse WI and we croaked 90 miles from our destination and in the very wee hours of an extremely snowy morning . 90 miles of siip and slide trip with a couple of cheesehead drivers who kept saying "it's jusl a liltle slippery".
    Prayers were said on that ride.
     
  17. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    I have one that a buddy did. He was working in a small yard on the Chicago sub. 3rd shift. Some cars had been spotted and my buddy had set some handbrakes-the yard has a severe "table roll"= he was on the ground and located some cars for his next move. He was walking back up to the power and noticed the hogger examining the inside of his eyelids. So my buddy got on his radio and said " That'll do _________!" This started the hogger awake and he reacted by dumping the air. of course he wasn't even moving!
     
  18. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    Sounds like the crew got to know what siding was near what restaurant, and had it all mapped out.

    *ROTFL*:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

    What are the rules on digital devices in the cabs nowadays? Phones, tablets, etc?
     
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  19. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    not so sure what they are exactly but when I retired they were definitely forbidden. you weren't even supposed to have them on your person or in your grip. The commuter train conductors at that time were issued a "company" cell phone so that METRA could contact them and vice-versa. Most carriers now have inward facing cameras so they can monitor what you do/did while in the cab. Big Brother is truly watching. It's not a fun job anymore.
     
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  20. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    My question long predates your career in railroading, but maybe you or someone will know.

    In the age of steam helpers before radios were in use, how did the engineers in helpers know how much throttle to apply? I know they used whistle codes to coordinate starting and stopping, but with multiple helpers, especially pushers at the rear, it seems that one engine might work much harder than another and if the locomotive(s) on the rear pushed too hard, a derailment might occur within the train as cars were compressed. Perhaps the engineers did it by feel, sensing how hard their engine was working?

    It all must have been quite the treat to be trackside back then. I just watched a video with three Erie steam pushers assisting a loaded coal train over the Ararat Mountain grade out of the anthracite region. This was rather common from what I read. The scene below was on the Clinchfield, with one of their 4-6-6-4s working hard on a shove.

    [​IMG]
     
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