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Old Time Trains

Call Boy

The Call Boy was a beginning position for young boys starting out railroading. They called to work freight pool crews, especially those at their away-from-home terminal and sleeping in their caboose in the case of conductors and brakemen or the bunkhouse in the case of engineers and firemen. Assigned crews were not entitled to a call.

Crews had to live within a one mile radius of the roundhouse or yard office to get a call. By the 1950's most men living near the yard had telephones and were called by the Crew Clerk. The call boy was expected to provide his own bicycle without any compensation from the Company. The call boy continued to call out-of-town crews at their away-from-home terminal. In Toronto, this all ended with the opening of the new hump yard. There, out-of-town crews all slept in the Dormitory and were called by the dorm contractor employees using an intercom system.

Playing practical tricks on the new kid was a favourite thing. This included such things as sending him to the Storekeeper with a requisition for a gallon of red and a gallon of green oil for the coal oil lamps! I didn't fall for that one! Nor, for one where I was told to turn out the switch lamps all over the yard at daybreak! The lamp tender would have been more than just a little annoyed had I done so.

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