CLEAT TRACKS IN THE SANDS OF TIME


| March/April 1962



Bronson, Michigan

Tom Doyle was a good natured, ever grinning Irishman who also sported a mouthful of gold teeth. Although around 35 years of age, he had never married and settled down; but was a railroad 'boomer' and had traveled all over the United States in his pursuit of that profession.

One spring, not many years after the turn of the century, he, having jumped one of his many railroad jobs, came to visit his sister who was married, had a family and lived a mile or so from our farm. It was the month of June and threshing time was in the offing, so my dad was in the shed busy getting his separator ready for the ran when Tom came by for a little chat and, incidentally, to see if he could get a job for the summer. He had had 'oodles' of experience with steam and ray dad knew that he would have long since been a locomotive engineer had he been steady and had just settled down.

My dad had confidence in his ability and needed an engineer so Tom soon started to work. He proved to be a good and trustworthy engineer who knew his business; and he worked until the harvest and threshing season was ebbing to a close. Then Tom said to my dad one day: 'I guess you won't be needing me much longer.' Then he boasted: 'I've fired or braked on about every railroad from Maine to California except this G. R. & I. over here. I guess I'll go over and give er a try.'

Shortly thereafter, Tom took off and soon was embarked on his first run on that line, firing for what he later termed a 'Lazy, fat old Hogger' who expected Tom to do not only the firing but his work too.

The engine was a light, ten wheeler with 24 box cars loaded with wheat behind her stack. Coming in from the north, they approached a small town in Northern Indiana, stopped on the main rail at the yard limits, uncoupled the engine and drove ahead to the depot, a half mile or so down track, to pick up running orders.