SOOT IN THE FLUES


| September/October 1985



Soot in the flues

Hi! Greetings to each of you do hope you are enjoying the activities of the summer. I'll be expecting to get some of your stories now for the future Iron Men Albums, don't let me down.

We've had several writings from Billy M. Byrd of Hopkinsville, Kentucky and I just wanted to mention we saw the recent write-up of Billy in The Locomotive Engineer of the May 1985 issue. He certainly is a true iron-man when it comes to threshing engines and to the railroad steamers and the later types of engines. If you recall Billy was dubbed the Poet of the Throttle by CBS News Charles Kuralt who featured him in his 'On the Road' television series. Billy had his last run last July and had all kinds of honor shown him for the great guy he is. He still maintains his rail interests through affiliation with the Kentucky Railway Museum and the National Railway Historical Society, in addition to the Tennessee Museum. Non-rail interests include the Historical Society of Hopkins County. He is also a Kentucky Colonel, York Rite Mason and Shriner. Billy and his wife Jean live at 369 South Harrig, Madisonville, Kentucky. They have three daughters and six grandchildren.

As if he didn't have enough to keep him busy, the colorful retired engineer is working on a book of his memoirs. The title? Why, 'A Byrd's Eye View of Railroading,' what else? Let's hear more about that book, Billy!

I know many of you like to read the most interesting stories from Well-springs of Wisdom. This one is called 'Gratitude' An ambitious young man called on his pastor and promised to tithe, and so together they knelt in prayer to make the promise and to ask God's blessing on the young fellow's career. He was only making forty dollars a week at that time, and therefore tithed four dollars. But before many years his income leaped into higher bracket and he was tithing as much as $500 a week. He decided he had better call on the minister and see if he could not somehow be released from his tithing promise it was getting much too costly. He told the pastor, 'It was no problem when I was only tithing four dollars every week but now it is up to five hundred dollars and I simply can't afford that.'

The old pastor said, 'I do not see how you can be released from your promise but we could kneel down and ask God to cut your income back to about forty dollars and a tithe of four dollars a week.' What fools we mortals be?

And now on to some letters from our readers.