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Jim Peters
Tales of the Rails

The Wheel Turns and Daddy Comes Home
By Jim Peters

Jan 17, 2003
When I requested to work TVs on the East End, one of the possibilities was the Agency at Angola. I drove over there one day to look the job over. At quitting time Al Townsend had an hour or more to wait for late-running #52. When I remarked he must be getting in a lot of overtime, he said he wouldn't get paid any, just handling Express. I didn't tell him of the incident at Fairview in '46. I knew then that he was a "non" and didn't deserve to be put wise. Now that the Freight Agent positions were falling by the wayside it behooved me to concentrate on Ticket jobs. A couple nights a week I dropped in on Walt Gifford, 2nd Trick at Painesville to brush up on ticketing procedures. I was already familiar with the reports, etc.

Anyway, I was notified that I'd be given a test before being allowed to work Dunkirk Ticket. A day or two later who should walk into Wickliffe depot but Kenny Hunt, the young man I had relieved on my first assignment at Derby, in '42. Later he had been involved in a fatal accident at Willoughby and dropped from the Operators' roster. Afterward, he landed a position in the Passenger Dept. in Cleveland. We exchanged pleasantries and chatted about this and that, and finally I said, "What about the test?" He said, "You just had it. We knew you were OK, but we had to go through the formality because two other guys were disqualified."

I was stuck at Wickliffe the rest of the winter and into spring of 1960. Finally a three-week vacation TV came open on Relief Position #1. The schedule was 1st trick Dunkirk Saturday and Sunday, Warren Freight Monday (an easy job with an 8 cent per mile allowance for the 90-mile round trip), 2nd Trick Dunkirk Tuesday and Wednesday, with Thursday and Friday off. While working this relief job I was notified that Wickliffe was abolished, so I bumped Townsend on 2nd Trick Dunkirk, starting April 23rd. My daily commute was the four-block walk to the Station at 3rd & Main.

Jim Peters

Special Delivery
By Jim Peters

Jan 18, 2003
We were renting the upstairs of a double house and the owner lived down. Enos Sherman was in his eighties but still spry, with slight build and twinkling eyes. He loved to tell of the days when he serviced the steam engines at the Valley Branch enginehouse in Dunkirk. He was delighted to learn I had some fix-up ability. "If you see anything that's broke, just let me know and I'll buy the materials." He didn't mention deducting my labor from the rent, but I didn't mind.

We were happy and contented living here and Sally's sister and some of her nieces and nephews lived nearby. The summer passed quickly. I enjoyed the job and it's proximity to home. Al Hunt, who had bumped me from Irving in '46 was on First Trick and we got along good. We each had four trains to work, but on First Trick there was a Baggageman to handle the baggage and mail. The tracks were elevated through Dunkirk and the ticket office and baggage room were at ground level. A buzzer announced the approach of trains. You called out the train to the waiting room, pulled the baggage/mail cart out through the tunnel to the elevator, and up to the platform.

I requested to work Al's three-week vacation, starting August 8th. About a week later a well-dressed young woman came in dragging a trunk and carrying an infant. She said she was in a hurry to get to some place in Canada. She had left her car in the driveway in front of the loading door. I told her the train was just about to arrive, and to move the car to the parking lot, and I'd sell her a ticket just to Buffalo. She moved the car and grabbed the ticket just as #90 pulled in. There was no time to check the trunk so I lugged it up the stairs and got the Conductor to let it ride in the coach vestibule. I went back down to the office, pleased I had helped a lady in distress. A couple days later Townsend came in on 2nd Trick and asked me, "Did you have a woman with a baby who had to leave town in a hurry?" It seems her husband was looking all over for her because she had cleaned out their bank account and ran away from home.

When Al Hunt returned from vacation I had the 27th and 28th off before resuming my own job on Monday. That Saturday evening I was building an undersink cabinet in the kitchen when my parents dropped in. The women were in the living room and Dad and I chatted as I worked. About an hour later, Sally came out to the kitchen and said, "It's time to go." I took her to Brooks Memorial Hospital and less than two hours later our fifth child was born.

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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