Railroads of Madison County
06 Interurban Lines

Railroads and Interurbans of Northern Madison County

Jackie Mac's Dog
John E. Lane

During the years I lived in Orestes (1935-1946) (the last four years I was in the USMC), our mail was delivered by the Nickel Plate Railroad. There were two trains a day, one going east in mid-morning, which brought most of our mail. Then one going west in mid-afternoon carrying very little, or most of the time no mail at all. It was usually just thrown off the baggage car without the train even slowing down. But, if there were any packages the train would stop to drop them off. And, since all of the "heavy freight" always came from the west, you could tell just after the train passed Dundee whether or not it would be stopping in Orestes.

It was common practice, most of the time, for anyone in town expecting packages to go up and wait for the mail train just to see if it stopped. In which case it would indicate something bigger than just the regular mail.

The man whose job it was to deliver the mail from the railroad station to the post office, for most of the time I lived in Orestes, was John McMahon, known to all for many years as "Jackie Mac". It was also part of the procedure that you were not allowed to look at the names and addresses. You had to go up to the post office and wait for the mail to be sorted before you could find out whether or not the packages were yours or someone else's.

Such were the existing conditions in the summer of 1939. My mother had ordered my older brother and me new suits (our first) from Montgomery Ward in Chicago. So we waited a few days (not long enough, I'm sure) and then started going up to the Nickel Plate station every week-day morning to "see if the mail train stopped". The following poem is what actually occurred on the morning our package arrived.

Jackie Mac's Dog

The day's big event in the town I was raised
When the milkin' was done and the hogs had been slopped,
Was to go up town to the Nickel Plate station
And see if the mail train stopped.

If it did, there'd be a package
And it likely as not would be yours,
Some clothes or other things Mom had sent for
From one of the mail order stores.

Now the man that gathered it up, for a time,
And carried it high on his back
Down the street a piece to the town Post Office
Was a man called Jackie Mac.

Old Jackie always took his dog
About the color of Uncle John's Duroc hog,
With a mean disposition to match it.
Which should explain why, the day he broke his chain,
And took off after that Nickel Plate Train,
We were all right there rootin' for him to catch it.

And, catch it he did, by the very last wheel
Which ended our problem for good,
And though a sigh of relief was heaved by us all,
Not one of us could, or for what matter would,
A been put in the spot where old Jackie Mac stood.

The dog, of course, meant a lot to Jackie. Butt, to the rest of us, he was just as disagreeable as my poem purports him to be. (I was carrying the Anderson Herald at the time and he would get me every morning) And, even though all present (about 10 or 12), excepting Jackie Mac, of course----were more than a little bit glad to witness his demise, I for one became quite ambivalent in my feelings about the incident in later years. Which is, as you can see, most evident in the last stanza of my poem.

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