A Chicago Subdivision Photo Album (Part
3 of 4)
Photographed by JD
MPRR Engineer '78-'85
section wouldn't be complete without at least a few excerpts from
Tuch's online publication, "Hot Times on the High Iron."
The flollowing column is from the 27 February, 2002 edition.
You may start your own free subscription by contacting Tuch.
Today we look
at a few more characters of the game.
After a few serious
columns lately, it is time for some humor. As I have mentioned in
previous columns, the rail industry employs a diverse group of people
from all sorts of backgrounds. As a result, we have quite the colorful
bunch of players here who can really make the job interesting and
fun. Today we study a few more of these folks.
Back in my days
at the MoPac, I fired on occasion for a fellow named Porky. His real
name was Jim, but virtually nobody called him that. Porky was short
and well, rather heavy. He could eat like there was no tomorrow. I
watched him gnaw down some thirty pieces of chicken in a twelve-hour
stint one evening. Porky had false teeth and never became accustomed
to eating with them. He would take them out, drop them into his pocket
and gum his food. It was quite the sight.
We actually got
along very well and I fired for him quite often. We would joke and
laugh most of the night or day as the case might be. He was good with
silly names and had one for almost everybody.
I was working
with him on the night transfer between Yard Center and the Belt Railway
of Chicago's Clearing Yard. We had completed yarding our train upon
our return to Yard Center and were now engine lite waiting at the
signal at 162nd Street. This interlocking was located at
the very south end of Yard Center. When we got this signal, we would
be lined from the inbound runner to one of the main tracks and head
up to the roundhouse to tie up the power. Our power this trip was
pair of L&N GP9's. We were sitting on the south unit and the head
man was on the north one. I could not see the signal from my vantage
point as it was on the opposite side of the tracks and I had two units
in the way preventing me from seeing it.
and patiently waiting for the signal when Porky calls out "Red." I
started to release the brakes but then caught myself.
"Red?" I said.
"Ya, red. You
Ya, I guess I
shouldn't. They don't call that signal "fire your ass red" for nothing.
I made mention
that it probably wasn't a real good idea to call out a signal like
that while we are stopped at it. Being that we had put in a long night,
somebody could easily go ahead and take off right by it. I managed
to catch myself but under different circumstancesâ..
So Porky goes
on to recount a story about just that. He told of sitting at a stop
signal like this and calling out "Red" to his Fireman like he did
with me. This Fireman immediately released the brakes, yanks back
the throttle and quickly shoots right past the stop signal, only without
permission to do so. Porky told of getting some discipline over this
episode. Kinda makes me wonder why he pulled it with me.
We had a Trainman
there whom Porky dubbed "Dilmer." This guy at one point in his life
was a bit overly fond of the drink. As a result, he contributed to
the death of far too many brain cells. He wasnâ€™t quite the same
in his later years. He was a character in his own right though.
One day while
working on the Chicago Heights Terminal Transfer in Chicago Heights
(also known as the Hack Line), Dilmer decides to climb on top of a
boxcar. This was a huge rule violation as by this point in time, we
not allowed to be up on top of any car for any reason. Nonetheless,
Dilmer gets on top. It had snowed quite a bit in recent days and there
was a large pile of snow that had been plowed off the lead. This pile
was at the very end of the lead and was right alongside the very boxcar
on top of which Dilmer was standing.
He looks down
at the other guys on his crew and says "Shoot me"
"Shoot me! You
know, like in the movies. Pretend you have a gun and shoot me."
So the Duke of
Earl who was working with him makes the always popular thumb and index
finger gun we all made as kids, points it at Dilmer and goes "BANG!"
Dilmer yells out
"Oh they got me" grabbing his chest and proceeding to fall off the
car and into the pile of snow, just like in the movies. However in
the movies it is normally a professional stuntman performing this
feat of acrobatics. Needless to say, nobody believed what Dilmer just
did and went running up to see if he was alright. He was and was laughing
about this whole episode. When it was mentioned to him that this pile
of snow might have been frozen solid or perhaps maybe just a little
bit of snow pushed up on top of a pile of ballast and he could have
been seriously injured, Dilmer just shrugged and said "Oh, I guess
I never thought of that."
And yet another
character on the MoPac was a Trainman named Marshall. He was right
ahead of me in seniority on the Trainman's list. Being that our Trainman's
extra board was a seniority board, this was actually to my advantage.
He was notorious for taking calls, then either marking off at the
last minute or not showing up and then calling in saying he couldn't
make it. This would give me a late call to work his assignment. It
also meant I got paid from when the job went on duty, no matter what
time I arrived. On one occasion he even called in late and told the
Caller he was in jail. They checked it out and found out he really
was too. It was unfortunate that he wasn't kept there.
This guy had a
girlfriend who was on vacation in Hawaii. While she was gone, he had
landed the afternoon switcher at 26th Street Yard in Chicago
Heights. Every afternoon he would arrive a few minutes early and call
her in Hawaii from a company phone at the 26th Street Yard
office. When the job went to coffee, again he would call her in Hawaii.
This was also the case for lunch break and then when the job tied
up. He did this for a good week.
when the phone bill arrived, those in charge about had a stroke. Here
were dozens of calls to Hawaii. It is highly unlikely the MoPac would
have any reason to transact business between their 26th
Street Yard and the 50th state. It was a good bet the powers
that be would begin to investigate this bill rather thoroughly. And
It took them a
few weeks, but they were able to use the process of elimination to
nail Marshall as the culprit of these phone calls. He was made to
reimburse the company for all the calls, over $300 worth.
Hot Times on
the High Iron, - ©2002 by JD Santucci. Used with permission.
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