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  Railroads of Madison County
Jim Peters
Tales of the Rails

Sometimes it takes a bit of nerve
By Jim Peters

Dec 29, 2002
Some of those old guys wouldn't carry their own mothers if they lacked proper transportation, but brother Bill and I got away with it one time in the late 30s. A couple of times I rode with Dad when he worked passenger locals. In those cases his run was just between Buffalo and Cleveland. In addition to his elegant dining room in CUT, Fred Harvey ran a cafeteria for RR employees. It was just beyond the barber shop, off a passageway that ran from the Southeast corner of the concourse to an inside alleyway. After a meal in the cafeteria we would take the alleyway as far as the baggage-handling area, where there were narrow stairways down to the track platforms. The track numbers were posted on each door to its stairway.

Before the War, passes were not honored on No. 6, the Fifth Avenue Special. Bill and I were in town for an Indians game, traveling on Mom's pass from Erie. Naturally, we stayed until it ended and missed No. 44 to get back home. I said, "Follow me and keep quiet." After ascertaining 6's track number from the Bulletin Board we went out through the alley and down to the platform.

The Conductor was quite busy with the passenger load and didn't get to us until we were past Geneva. He looked at the pass and said, "This is no good on here." We know, but we missed 44." "How did you get past the gate?" "We went down the back way." He just rolled his eyes and handed it back to me.

Jim Peters

Railfan Jim
By Jim Peters

Dec 30, 2002
In 1937 I joined the Engine Picture Club, which was sponsored by RAILROAD STORIES magazine. I wore its white membership button when on RR property. Afternoons would find schools chums Lee Fisher, Sam Wolfe and me at the Wesleyville engine servicing facility. We ventured into the roundhouse and were fascinated by the sleeping giants and the smell of steam and hot oil. We climbed into the cab of a dead 0-8-0 yard engine, goggle-eyed at all the levers and gauges.

Soon we befriended the day hostler, Mr. Herman, and he took us into the cabs of the Mohawks as he moved them from spot to spot. One day he told me to come over to the engineer's seat and move the 2842 from the water plug to the coal dock. I reached up, grabbed the throttle and yanked it about two notches, and after a few seconds, we were moving. He kept his hand on the brake valve, and after traveling about 75 feet he closed the throttle and stopped her under the tipple. The chute lowered and the coal descended in a roar and a cloud of black dust. It was gratifying to see a photo of the 2998 at this location in the Fourth Quarter, 2000 "Headlight." Thank you, Mr. Vail!

WV Interlocking was located on the South side of the tracks, just West of the service area. I started visiting the 2nd Trick Operator, Henry Peplinski. One day I was there with my camera and leaned out the window to get a shot of a departing westbound. When the head end came by, it was the 2842! I kept that photo some 35 years, finally giving it to my friend, John Couchman, in New Zealand, along with a couple dozen others of NYC steam. Wish now I'd had copies made.

Jim Peters

Jim Peters "Tales of the Rails" stories are Copyrighted by Jim Peters and may not be used without his express permission.
"My Dad, Al Peters, was a Trainman and Conductor, starting with the NYC in 1916. Retired in 1968. I started in 1942 as Agent-Operator, and worked on the Erie Division until retiring on disability in 1981. Some of the positions I worked were Freight Agent, Ticket Agent, Teletype Operator, Dispatcher Report Clerk and Train Dispatcher in the Cleveland Union Terminal, when the Erie Division and Cleveland Divisions were consolidated in 1963. Altogether I worked at 20+ stations and offices in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, Main Line and Valley Branch. - Jim Peters

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