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Monday, September 1, 2008

Ruby Tuseday




Ship it on the Frisco!

This caboose sits in Frisco Park located in downtown Rogers, Arkansas. My father worked for the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway Company for over 40 years. With the exception of the two years he spent in the Navy during WWII, it is the only company that he ever worked for. Not many people can say that anymore. Dad worked during those years that many consider the Golden Age of railroading. He saw the steam engine give way to diesel power and many would say that the railroad lost a bit of it's soul when the steam powered locomotives finally disappeared.

The caboose was home to the train crew. It had a couple of beds, a desk, a sink, toilet, a pot belly stove and a fine little perch to sit a watch for any trouble that might develop with the train that rumbled along in front of you.

As a kid, I would go down to the train station in Henryetta, Oklahoma and watch dad work. He was a telegraph operator at the time. He would let me take the train orders out and place them in a device that looked a little like a sling shot. As the train passed by, one of the crew in the caboose would stretch out his arm and snag the message. It was the highlight of my day.

Once in a while I would be invited by the crew to hop into the engine and run out to the local glass plant to switch some cars around. I even got to "drive" that train once! I was probably eight or nine years old. I don't have to tell you how illegal that probably was, and that everyone could have lost their jobs. But it was a small town, and it was in the mid 1950's when things were much simpler.

It is little wonder that I was not impressed with the Lionel train set that my dad bought me one year for Christmas. Why would I want to play with that little thing running around the Christmas tree when I could walk three blocks up the street and play with the real thing?!! I had a great childhood. We weren't rich and we weren't poor. We were just a hardworking middle class family. This old caboose reminds me of some wonderful days spent in a small town, doing stuff that kids today will never get the opportunity to experience. I miss those times and I feel sorry for kids who will never have that much fun. Life was good. It still is, just different.

Note: The St. Louis & San Francisco Railway Company never built a line all the way to San Francisco. In fact the track never extended past Floydada, Texas.


22 comments:

napaboaniya said...

These are beautiful shots of the red railway.
Happy Ruby Tuesday!! :)

Ralph said...

The caboose is a throwback to another era. Although I think the diesel-electric locomotives might be safer and more efficient than steam (and minus the soot).

But yes, old is classier and more stylish than the more efficient modern devices. St. Louis and San Francisco sound like the classic terminal points for trains. And even romantic!

Bobbie in Hawaii said...

What an excellent post. It brought back memories for me, too. My grandfather was a railroader (Delaware & Hudson). One of the greatest thrills for my cousins and me when we visited our grandfather in Pennsylvania was when he would take us to the roundhouse and give us a ride on the turntable, and let us look at the locomotives up close.

Happy Ruby Tuesday.

Ladynred said...

These are beautiful beautiful photos of railway and very educational as well. Thanks

Norm said...

nice post! love reading it very interesting..thanks for sharing.. here's mine sweetnorms and travelnorms..

Leora said...

I always liked the train. Now from your post, with its lovely photos and touching childhood descriptions I will like it even more.

Dianne said...

thanks for all the information and the anecdotes, really adds to the photos which are wonderful.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

First, I love your new header. What a handsome young man. Grandpa's pride and joy I expect.

Not participating, but want to say...now that's red. Have a great day. Big hug. :)

Raven said...

Beautiful photos and what a wonderful trip down your happy childhood's Memory Lane. Thanks for sharing those wonderful memories.

Bond said...

Cool shots, even better story...thanks for sharing

I still have some of my Lionel trains and the original boxes they came in

Positive Images Surround Us said...

Great shots! I love San Francisco!

lucy said...

Your story is wonderful and your pictures are even better!

storyteller said...

Love the freckles on the little QT in your ‘header’ … and I enjoyed your RUBY train photos (and accompanying information). Wonderful! Thanks for dropping by mine at Small Reflections earlier today.
Hugs and blessings,

Carletta said...

Love these! I love old trains.
This was a perfect red.

MyMaracas said...

I'm old enough to remember when trains had cabooses, and I still miss them. Beautiful photos, and a nostalgic moment.

Roger said...

That is a great red caboose! Good R.T.!

Amazing Gracie said...

My poor sister-in-law had to endure train museums on her honeymoon!
My bro would really love this post.
We live real close to the "Tehachapi Loop." If you know trains, I'm sure you'll know what I'm referring to. I didn't have a clue!
Trains do have a way of creating memories if you're over a certain age, as I am!
~~~Blessings~~~

Alice - I Was Born2Cree8 said...

I really LOVE these photos!! I always 'had a thing' for the caboose... and my Dad worked on the railroad while I was growing up.

onangelwings said...

Those are some awesome pictures of beautiful red history.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Thanks for this post.

Travis said...

I love this post.

You know what I liked best? The idea of sitting on the porch of the caboose as the train moved through the countryside, swaying back and forth, a breeze in my face, just taking in the world.

I'm sure working one of these trains took some serious smarts and effort, but your description was so pastoral.

Thanks.

Patti said...

This is an interesting post, with all the memories you packed into it!
The '50s sure were a simpler time. Kids today just wouldn't understand.

The train photos are wonderful. So much red!

Happy Belated Ruby Tuesday ~