THE VANISHING BREED


| November/December 1968



Fort Scott, Kansas

I speak not of the 'Braves' of old
Who roamed the prairies wide; I speak not of the pioneer
Who took hardships in stride,
I speak of a breed of a different cut,
Remote from the fuss and noise, I speak of the men of sweat and skills,
'The Iron Horse Stable Boys.'

They didn't ride the cab with 'Casey'
For reasons well understood;
They were busy behind the wrench and hammer
To make all 'Caseys' look good.
The 'Hoggers' enjoyed their share of fame,
And quite justly I might add, But when they came to the end of their run
Their report quite often, was bad.

'Old 'twelve twenty-one' is ready for the 'heap,'
Just barely chugged up the hill. Better give 'er a new set o' flues
'Cause, if you don't I'll surely spill; I'll take it up with 'The Bull o' the Woods'
He'll take this place apart.'
The boys just answered with a quizzical grin,
'When you're home, what d' ya use for a heart?'

Square up the valves, take up the slack,
Or put stirrups on the seat box;
She wheezes, and snorts, and jerks, and jumps,
Bucks a man right out of his sox.
'Twas often true, of these 'steeds' of blue,
Or black as the case may be,
But rest assured, her ills would be cured,
By the boys in the dungarees.

From the days of the 'diamond smoke-stack'
When her flames were fed on wood,
To the 'complex giant' of the 'forties,'
She was the pride of 'The Brotherhood.'
With equal pride the 'smudged face boys'
Kept pace with her changing needs,
That she may not fail, that 'twin steel trail,'
Which challenged these mighty 'steeds.'
'Tis sad to see, this 'Black Beauty'
To which the country owes so much
Be set aside, in time's swift stride
In museums, and parks, and such;
Took special skills, to cure her ills
And keep her tuned so fine,
So, a cheer, or a tear, for the 'Stable Boys'
Who took her to the end of the line.