Monday, March 16, 2009

My Time As a Conrail Engineer

How can you tell apart a little kid who’s really, really interested in trains from one who thinks they’re fine only at a distance? Take them up to the Bridgeport railroad station, where you are at track level and wait for a nine-car diesel-pulled train to come roaring past about twenty feet from where you are standing.

The little tyke who is a genuine fan will not pee his pants.

So there we are, Mom and I; every time we go over to Bridgeport, I’m allowed to hang out at the railroad station for an appropriate length of time and hope a train comes roaring through on the express tracks. Perhaps one would stop on its way to New York or Boston, while the rest would speed through in a rush of overhead wire sparks and leaving dust devils of sand and dirt in its wake.

So, later in life I was taking post-graduate level courses at Notre Dame University and, during a break, a Conrail train came by our out-of-the-way building. The school ran its power plant on coal, delivered by a Conrail local.

“Want a ride?” the engineer shouted. He hardly drew his next breath before I was sitting next to him. As we pushed the string of cars across State Route 31, a trucker waved up at me and I wondered why. “He thinks I’m the engineer!” So I waved back, with the slow, easy manner of a working railroad engineer. “Well done, Mr. Trucker, and we of the railroad fraternity salute you.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't know that, Tom. Nicely put anecdote.

Remember our trip to Brattleboro? Times have changed haven't they?

Exit 318.

March 20, 2009 6:47 AM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

Ha! Another excellent blog memory that few, if any, people may have shared in their own lives.

Let's run it and see if there are any responses.

March 20, 2009 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on bruddah!

Exit 318

March 20, 2009 2:45 PM  

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