A Fortunate Passage: EXCERPT III

“…In the early to mid-twentieth century, most of America consisted of small towns and cities…Throughout Kansas, most towns were farm-to-market centers of commerce. They were agriculture based, and in some areas oil drilling and production had made its debut. For the most part, the railroad was the link to the rest of America…through this small community via rail and roadway brought many personalities and cultures to this once-vast expanse of prairie…For the most part, it was a wholesome place for finding work, raising a family, and worshiping God…”

A Train trip…

“I remember my grandfather taking me for short rides on a steam locomotive from the Hoisington Depot. We would head west down the tracks for a few blocks, going very slowly, until we encountered my Grandmother Martha, who was waiting for Grandpa to hand me down to her before he started his run to Horace, Kansas. This was a huge event for me at the time; I distinctly remember the experience. I must have been all of four or five years old.”

“I have tried to imagine what it was like to work on the locomotives–to rev up the boiler and propel that “iron horse” across the prairie into the wind. This thought has produced powerful visions within my mind–of the elation of total freedom, a surging mental thrust toward the unknown into this vast and open land…”

“Another tool used by the locomotive engineers of that era was to count the telephone poles as they passed them. It was common to count 40 telephone poles in every mile, which allowed Grandfather to use the secondhand on his pocket watch to gauge how fast his locomotive was going. Grandfather told my father that when he pulled the Eagle (a passenger train named for providing quick service between St. Louis and Pueblo), he would make his run or trip in 3 hours and 59 minutes from Hoisington to Horace, Kansas and would lay over for the return trip. It was regulation that an employee had to layover for a minimum of eight hours.”

By | 2017-12-07T20:53:25+00:00 November 30th, 2017|0 Comments

About the Author:

Grady Birdsong, the son of an oil field roughneck, driller, tool pusher, and a homemaker mother, was raised on the small town values of “God, Mother, Country, and Apple Pie,” in that order. He grew up in central and southwest Kansas attending Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, before enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1966. After two combat tours in Northern I Corps of Vietnam during the Tet Offensive of 1968 and along the DMZ in 1969, he returned to Denver and finished his formal education at Regis University, Denver, Colorado.

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