Dec 31, 2002
He copied a 19 order and told me to hand it on to a yard engine moving east on Track 3, against the current of traffic. That 0-8-0 looked like a mountain bearing down on me. Someone in the gangway grabbed the order from my hand and I started back to the tower. Just as I was about to cross track 2 an eastbound fast freight appeared and I turned to get out of its way. I fell ignominiously into a mud puddle between the tracks. When I got back to the tower he yelled at me for tracking mud onto his clean floor, never mind I'd almost gotten killed.
Just west of the tower was an emergency transfer track to the Nickel Plate. The PRR had trackage rights between DJ and GJ, and their passenger trains between Myrtle St. in Erie to GJ. In addition to handling PRR freight to and from their yard, the Op had to retrieve consists thrown from NYC westbounds and telegraph them to ND office at Collinwood. All in all, a busy place to work.
Jan 2, 2003
Traffic was sparse then and you had the road all to yourself. But if you broke down between towns you were SOL. Somewhere west of Barcelona on Route 5 the old Ford lurched to the right, but I stopped safely and got out to check. The right front tire had a hole in the casing you could put your fist through. I managed to put the spare on, but with four "baldies," driving had to be curtailed. Eventually, the Ration Board OK'd a new set.
One morning I got off #18 at Dunkirk with an extra man, Tommy Furlong, who was to get a bus to his assignment at Gerry. This was before the new NYC passenger station was built, everything being handled by the adjacent Erie RR station/hotel. The old Ford was dead. "Let's push her out to the street and onto the downgrade under the NYC overpass." I was pushing on the door jamb, Tommy pushing behind me, and once rolling I jumped in and slammed the door on poor Tommy's hand. Still dead. Then I noticed a small piece of paper tucked under the windshield wiper. It was a note from someone at the Erie depot: "You left your headlights on and we disconnected your battery."
Early one morning in late 1946 I was on the way from Erie to Warren, PA. It was snowing very hard, and about four miles south of Wattsburg the lights went out. I couldn't see a thing and tried to stop without skidding, but ended up in a ditch on the left side. One of my big, heavy mitts had nudged the headlight switch, which was mounted in the center of the steering wheel. I struggled out of the passenger side door, spotted a light way ahead, and started out for same, which I surmised was the village of Beaver Dam. Two guys in a Model A Ford showed up and gave me a lift to Corry, arriving there about 6 AM. I stopped at a diner and called for a AAA tow, telling him where to pick me up. Got the car back on the road and arrived at work an hour or so late, but all in one piece.
Jim Peters "Tales of the Rails" stories are Copyrighted by Jim Peters Ja76peters@aol.com 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