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  Railroads of Madison County
Jim Peters
Tales of the Rails

A Fool's Luck
By Jim Peters

Jan 13, 2003
April 1st, 1947 was the beginning of a momentous period for me. On that date I arrived at Cassadaga, NY and held down a TV for a little over nine months, but still owning the job at Warren. Most of the business consisted of Express and LCL freight. Fredrickson Bros. lumber mill and Abrams's feed mill had sidings, but handled most of their business by truck. There was a passing siding and a water tank to supply the engines of southbound trains after they climbed the 14-mile grade from Dunkirk.

At the time I was seeing a girl from Sinclairville that I'd taken up with when I worked there. But then I met Sally Kropat in Cassadaga, and the first one was history. That's when I smashed up my brand new '47 Ford. One evening in June, Marvin Loucks and I started out from Renckens' Hotel in Cassadaga and made the rounds of bars as far east as Angola-On-the-Lake. On the way back I passed out and hit the corner of a barn in Irving, of all places! I thought afterward that if we had been sober we both would've been killed, and not just slightly injured.

Six weeks later, when the car had been repaired, Sally and I started dating, and to make a long story short, we got engaged at Thanksgiving and were married on May 4th, 1948. I have a photo I printed from the Internet showing a southbound arriving at Cassadaga in the snow, circa 1946. It shows a corner of Fredrickson's mill where she worked before we were married. A figure can be seen in an upper window. I like to think it is Sally, waiting for her Prince Charming to arrive. It was at:       http://www.railroad.net/graphics.dkny/cassadaga.jpg

I tried to bring it up just now, but I guess it has been removed...

Jim Peters

Dearest Mine
By Jim Peters

Jan 13, 2003
We became engaged Thanksgiving Day, 1947 and I presented her with the ring I had been wearing. It had just a plain ceramic stone. I took her to meet my folks in Erie. Mom was very happy for me and probably relieved I was going to settle down. Before we left she took me aside and said, "For God's sake, get her a decent ring." I replied, "OK, Ma, I'm glad you like her."

Now that the married state was in my near future, I was behooved to enhance the income. I bid the TV at Silver Creek, NY and took over January 12, 1948. The Express commission was so big it was reduced to 5% after the first $100 per month. In winter, waiting for #9 for mail loading was good for three or four hours overtime. Around 5:00 PM I asked the Dispatcher for a figure on #9, and the one he got from Buffalo allowed ample time for me to go uptown to line up a room. While there I heard a train pull out and it sounded like #9. I called the NKP Op and he said he couldn't tell, it was snowing too hard.

I dashed back to the depot just in time to hear #9 being reported at Dunkirk (it stopped there daily to pick up Sunday newspaper supplements in baggage cars). I told the Dispatcher what happened and he said, "You can't trust Buffalo's figures." He told the Op at X Tower in Dunkirk to get word to #6 to stop at Silver Creek for mail. One of my sacks was a First Class to be transferred to #5 at Erie. I told #6's RPO Clerk about it and hoped #5 was late enough to make the transfer at BCT. It was not a good start for my first day on the job.

Fate stepped in when John Betts, the Agent at Sinclairville, dropped dead in the depot. I was the successful bidder on the permanent vacancy, and went there February 2, 1948. I now had a regular Agent's position and was #86 on the seniority roster, 21 from the bottom, and engaged to the Most Beautiful Girl in the World. Things were looking good.

Jim Peters


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

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