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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Wide awake now!


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Date: 02/02/17 00:26
Wide awake now!
Author: crackerjackhoghead

  It's been my experience that most railroad subdivisions are comprised of mile after mile of mind numbingly boring terrain (i.e. miles of flat tangent track where every siding looks just like the last one or grinding up grade at 12 mph, for hours on end), punctuated buy one or two short segments that are fun and/or challenging to negotiate. On U.P.'s Los Angeles sub, one of those segments is westbound, between Streeter and Pedley. As you come off the Santa Fe, at Riverside, you drop down towards the Santa Ana River crossing.  The last half mile descends, fairly steeply, just before crossing the river, and then, ascends, even more abruptly, on the west side of the river, over a hump, and then down again into Pedley.  In the days when SD-40's and C30-7's were the mainstay of the UP fleet, even though you would already be at track speed by the time you neared the river, you had to pull on the train with all you had, in an effort to stay ahead of it. With a heavy train, such as coal or soda ash, that wasn't always possible and you, sometimes, got a little "Hello" from the rear end before you were across the river and heading up the other side. Once you crested the hill at Clay St., you set a little air and throttled down to notch one or two as you began to descend into Pedley. In only a moment's time, you'd gone from the bone rattlingly loud screaming of 645's in run 8 to an almost surreal silence as the train glided over the top of the hill. The track makes a mile long, 90 degree curve to the right here. The curve is super-elevated and, as the engine leans into the curve, descending in near silence at 60 mph, there are a few brief moments where it's seems almost as if you are flying. I always got a kickout of it!

  In the early 1990's, the U.P. began double tracking the L.A. sub in preparation for the comming of the new Metrolink commuter service. At first, sidings were lengthened. Later, they were connected and crossovers were added. This meant that we began to meet trains where we weren't used to seeing them, at locations that were formerly sigle track which, for a time, made for some, unnervingly, tense moments! One of the sidings that had been extended was Pedley. It had been extended a mile east of it's former location, down on the tangent, and now ended immediately at the west end of that long 90 degree curve that I mentioned above.

  About the time that this track work was being done, I was comming home from Yermo on a long all-nighter. My conductor was an older gentleman named Chano Ornelas. Chano was from the Yucatan and, although he'd been in this country for several decades and spoke perfect english, his accent was still so thick that I often had to ask him to repeat himself. As we descended off of the Santa Fe and into Streeter, it was about 3:00 a.m. I assumed Chano to be asleep as I hadn't heard a peep from him in a couple hours. I, myself, wasn't in much better shape. It had been a long cold night and the electric sidewall heater was baking me to sleep too. I was reclined in my seat with one eye open and my feet propped up on the front cab heater. I could just see the horizon over the toes of my boots. I performed my normal ritual, crossing the Santa Ana River and, as we crested the hill and the engine leaned into the curve in near silence, I began to see what, at first, wasn't regeistering with my half asleep brain. It was the glow of a headlight on the rails, where my brain was telling me a train should not be! At the very moment that that began to sink in and I started feeling knotts in my stomach, Chano, suddenly, bolted upright on his feet and yelled, "Oh shit!, Oh shit!, Oh Shit!", in the clearest english that I ever heard him utter! In one grand sweep of my arm, I put the train in emergency and flung my window open. I leaned into it, about to jump out but, by this time, we were already sliding by the eastbound train which was stopped on the, newly extended, Pedley siding.

  As we came to a stop, now wide awake, pumped full of adrenaline and, me, feeling very angry, I asked Chano, "What was that outburst all about?". He, sheepishly, said, "I thought I saw some kids on the track". Really Chano, at 3:00 a.m., in the middle of nowhere? It was the one time I understood him perfectly well.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/02/17 00:30 by crackerjackhoghead.




Date: 02/02/17 06:39
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: drumwrencher

Great story, my friend. Keep 'em coming!

Walter
http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,3982710



Date: 02/02/17 07:02
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: trainjunkie

Hahaha! I worked with Chano quite a lot and...yep, I can see it going down just like you said. At least you didn't become "Parachute II" that night. ;-)



Date: 02/02/17 10:29
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: dbinterlock

Crackerjack Howdy,
    Yeah man, done the train handling thing right at that spot too. I would tell my students,  "Throttle Up Going Up, Throttle Down Going Down." Same exact technique right there at  the crest of the grade at your arrow. Run 8 at the crest, then passing the East end Pedley, in full dynamic. "Three seconds, drop a notch of power, 3 seconds drop another notch, 3 more seconds..."
     My personal peeve was after all that double tracking were the "doglegs" they put in to combine up tracks or move mains over or make what was once a siding is now a main track, etc. The LA Sub has quite a few and I could never get comfortable with this kind of right of way engineering expedience. Coming around a sweeper curve I know there is a dogleg here, but I am now staring directly into the headlight of an oncoming train straight track ahead, I know I will veer off to the Right (or Left) as I get closer, but that headlight directly ahead is getting bigger - yes our last signal was a Clear, and the new Left handed signal for the other two tracks is there but there is no signal for my track, put my hand on the Brake Handle even though it would be too late,  and I am really closing fast now at 65 MPH, keep looking for the rails to swerve, and... Those stream of thoughts can keep you on the edge of your seat at 3AM too.
     Right at the arrow showing crest of grade, before the subdivision on the Left (west ) of the arrow was put in, there was "Diaperman," a grown man wearing a diaper smoking a cigar and watching trains go by, usually late at night. I never saw the guy even after months of going through there looking for him. Did you ever see "Diaperman" here, Fredo?, Jaybird?,  SSW41? anybody?
Chano, like many other older rails was entertainment to me. Reasonably competent,  a real character, and entertaining.
 



Date: 02/02/17 10:41
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: Shafty

This is from way back in the dim recesses of my memory.  But I am reasonably sure that it was Ornelas' first trip as a conductor.  I would not want to swear to it, but I think that being his first trip as a conductor, his luck was to get a train with setouts and pickups, while the trains ahead of and behind him were thru trains.  I helped him assemble all the paperwork.  His is the only name I can remember.  The engineer was an African American from deep in the middle of Arkansas.  The brakeman was a comparatively new woman.

What I do remember for sure is that when they got back to Los Angeles I asked the woman brakeman how the trip had gone.

She said that it had been interesting, and went on to say that she had to do all the talking on the radio since over the radio no one could understand Ornelas or the engineer from deep in the middle of Arkansas.

Eugene Crowner 



Date: 02/02/17 12:30
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: crackerjackhoghead

Shafty Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This is from way back in the dim recesses of my
> memory.

Gene,
  Your story reminded me of another one. I was working with Eric Malone and I.D. Quinn. For those who don't know, Malone was a very high strung African-American with thick accent and a defensive disposition. He had a lightning fast manner of speaking that was hard to understand. And, did I mention defensive? If you happened to say, "It sure is a nice day." Malone might respond with something like, "Ain't my fault brotha!" Quinn, on the other hand, was a very quiet, soft spoken Vietnamese man, also with thick accent. He wore Coke bottle thick glasses and used a pair of binoculars to decipher the signals. He would watch the signal through them for a mile or more and then pivot in his seat and call it out as it whizzed passed his window, as if that was the first moment that he'd been able to see it!

  Anyway, we were going through San Bernardino when the Santa Fe dispatcher called us. Before I could answer, Malone's arm shot out and grabbed the microphone off of the control stand, as if it where a rattlesnake striking, and answered the dispatcher in his lightning fast tongue. The dispatcher said, "Is there anyone on your crew who speaks english?" Malone stared at the mic, looking puzzled for a moment, before handing it over to Quinn who, in his thick accent said, "Heh-whoa dis-pa-chaaar?" There was a long silence, after which, the dispatcher said, "Put the first guy back on"!

BTW Gene, when it comes to trouble with radio communication, you were at the other end of the spectrum. I've always thought that, had you not hired out with the railroad, your golden throated voice might have taken you far as a radio personality. You always issued track warrants with the most impeccable perfection and proffesionalism. That, combined with your voice, made you stand out among the other operators at Hobart. I really think someone needs to sit down with you and record you giving out a mach track warrant, for posterity's sake.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/02/17 14:45 by crackerjackhoghead.



Date: 02/02/17 13:30
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: dbinterlock

Stop. stop. stop. Laughing and remembering, laughing and remembering...



Date: 02/02/17 15:39
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: Fredo

J Heritage was working a yard job down in Souht Gate when SP Delores Yard called an Extra Pedro working a coal train in San Pedro. Chano answered "Extra San Paydrow over" Delores asked "Are you ready to go?". Chano replied something that J couldn't understand and he worked with Chano a lot.Delores then said, "Let me talk to the engineer. Bernie Bataloya, who was from the Phillipines, whose English was worse than Chano, said something. Delores then asked," By any chance would this job have a brakeman?" Then the brakeman Jerry Ballgeri answered and then The guy at Delores answered, "Thank God".   Another time I heard the UP Dispacther call an eastbound leaving UP East LA Yard and it was Chano and Bernie once again. After trying to understand what the combination of the two of them were saying the dispacther said,"Well I guess that is NAFTA".



Date: 02/02/17 16:34
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: TAW

Fredo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> J Heritage was working a yard job down in Souht
> Gate when SP Delores Yard called an Extra Pedro
> working a coal train in San Pedro. Chano answered
> "Extra San Paydrow over" Delores asked "Are you
> ready to go?". Chano replied something that J
> couldn't understand and he worked with Chano a
> lot.Delores then said, "Let me talk to the
> engineer. Bernie Bataloya, who was from the
> Phillipines, whose English was worse than Chano,
> said something. Delores then asked," By any chance
> would this job have a brakeman?" Then the brakeman
> Jerry Ballgeri answered and then The guy at
> Delores answered, "Thank God".   Another time I
> heard the UP Dispacther call an eastbound leaving
> UP East LA Yard and it was Chano and Bernie once
> again. After trying to understand what the
> combination of the two of them were saying the
> dispacther said,"Well I guess that is NAFTA".

One night in Chicago, I had the brickard job (three industries east of Barr Yard) come to the phone at the brickyard crossover.

Yo dispatcho brickyard.

Brickyard

Dis....(long string of slow, drawn out completely untelligible blithering)

Brickyard, try that again. I couldn't understand a word of it.

(Same thing)

Uh, brickyard, put the conductor on the phone.

Yo dispatccho; I ARE de conductern!


If this was the senior man on the crew, I sure didn't want to waste time with either brakeman.

Go get the engineer.

Uh dispatcho he up on the engine.

Good! That's a good place for him Go get him. Tell him I want to talk to him.

Uh....ok dispatcho...but the engine ain' by the phone. The caboose is.

That's fine. go get him anyway.


TAW



 



Date: 02/02/17 19:45
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: Shafty

Crackerjack:

Thanks for the kind words.

My father was a Lutheran pastor, so I had long known the value of speaking loudly and clearly.

That value was increasingly reinforced by a grouchy woman whose hearing was deteriorating with her increasing age.  She still sat in the back of the church and complained about not being able to hear.  If anyone suggested that she sit towards the front of the church so that she could hear better, her instant answer was that there was nothing wrong with her ears, people simply did not talk loud enough!  And that was the end of the story as far as she was concerned.


With cars pounding over the U.P./ATSF crossing and the ATSF radio in the background as I was transmitting a U.P. track warrant at Hobart Tower, all the sounds that the locomotive made while the crew was receiving the track warrant, clarity was important to completing the track warrant so Gary Hill could get back onto the radio to switch cars with the Paramount Switcher.

Eugene



Date: 02/02/17 20:50
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: dbinterlock

Stop you guys. My sides are hurting.



Date: 02/02/17 21:47
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: Fredo

Here's a sleeping Chano tale. I was the brakeman on an eastbound LAYR manifest train one night with Greg Taylor and Chano. We had to pick up a loaded box car that had been Bad Ordered and repaired. It was in the old Martinez spur just railroad east of Summit on the Santa Fe.Well Chano's head was laid back and he was in full release all the way up the hill. He was enjoying his REM moment and didn't wake up when Greg set the air and came to a stop.Chano liked to always be Charles in Charge even when he didn't seem to have a clue of what was going on,so I dropped off, made a cut and Greg and I air tested the car and added it to our train and off we went to Yermo.Chano woke up at the Lenwood road crossing and after realizing where he was remembered about the box car we were supposed to pick up and went into a panic. He always addresed fellow employees as Mister. So it was"Mister Taylor why didn't we pick up that car?.I told him look out the window,it's the first out car on our train".He then said that he had been working every day and was very tired and was very happy that the blue Pickens 70 ton car was with us.



Date: 02/02/17 22:18
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: Fredo

DBinterlock I saw the Diaperman twice.The BEST one was one night when were eastbound at the Clay Street road crossing and we saw the concrete block wall where the homes on the fireman's side started just past Crest Steel all lite up..As we got closer it was the Diaperman's Datsun pick up truck pointed east with the high beam lights illuminiting the wall as he stood there wearing just an adult diaper and a second one covering his face and head as he held up the bag of Depends high in the spotlight. In blue spray paint he had decorated the block wall behind him with a big  blue heart with the letter I to the left side and diapers on the right side, making it read " I LOVE DIapers". A few months later a developer started building new homes starting at that wall and working west.I never heard of anyone seeing him after his spot was eliminated. Possibly got a job as a trainmaster some where on the UP like City of Industry.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/02/17 22:19 by Fredo.



Date: 02/02/17 22:31
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: cewherry

On the Espee in Los Angeles circa 1977'ish we had a lady DS who was from somewhere in eastern Europe and
​English was obviously her second or maybe third language. Her radio transmissions, to my ear, were very difficult to understand, which is a bad thing.
So that there would be no misunderstanding, on more than one occasion prior to this incident when receiving her instructions via radio I had to ask her to repeat.  

​One night I was headed to W. Colton and came to a stop at the east end of Bassett siding with a red 'A' signal. I called the DS on the radio.

Me: ​Dispatcher, this is the XXXX east stopped at the east end of Bassett with a red signal.
​DS: Extera XXXX east, yuuu haaaf pearmeesion to pahs the reaad ceeignol ad the eesd end af Basatt undur the proveesions of ruhle 776 und proseeed easchtword.
Before I could repeat the authority back to the DS my conductor on the caboose came on the radio.

Conductor: ​Charlie, we didn't understand a word that dispatcher said. Did you get get any of that?
Me: ​I sure did. She said: Ve haaaf.......and proceeded to repeat the DS's instructions using my finest Bela Lugosi impression with a little theatrics thrown in.
​Conductor: ​Thats what I thought she said.
​DS:
​(Now with a firmness and deliberation absent prior) "I said...You...have...permission...to...pass...the...red...signal..." etc etc.

​She got the message. 

​(After posting this I am reminded that the operative word in SP's rule 776 was ​authority not ​permission. Still my recollection of the event 40 years after the fact
​is that the DS did in fact use the word ​permission. ​This distinction would be impressed upon operating crews repeatedly throughout my career either in rules classes
or safety briefings conducted by local management. Suffice to say, I got the message.)


Charlie





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/03/17 00:00 by cewherry.



Date: 02/03/17 09:11
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: bradleymckay

"Anyway, we were going through San Bernardino when the Santa Fe dispatcher called us. Before I could answer, Malone's arm shot out and grabbed the microphone off of the control stand, as if it where a rattlesnake striking, and answered the dispatcher in his lightning fast tongue. The dispatcher said, "Is there anyone on your crew who speaks english?" Malone stared at the mic, looking puzzled for a moment, before handing it over to Quinn who, in his thick accent said, "Heh-whoa dis-pa-chaaar?" There was a long silence, after which, the dispatcher said, "Put the first guy back on"!"

LOL!  One of the funniest stories I've read on TO in awhile! 


Allen



Date: 02/03/17 09:16
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: dbinterlock

Jackpot! A Chano tale, a Diaperman sighting and a reeaad ciegnol. Classic adventures on the railroad. 



Date: 02/03/17 11:46
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: crackerjackhoghead

Jim Cornwell said he told Chano, "It's Jim. Call me Jim, Chano. Mister Corwell is dead". "Yes sir, Mister Corwell", was Chano's response!



Date: 02/03/17 11:51
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: trainjunkie

And then there was Vo. ;-)



Date: 02/03/17 15:12
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: ExSPCondr

We have to go back about 30 years ago on the SP Coast line after it had been converted to DTC, and the dispatchers were putting out track warrants on the radio.

I was working a work train distributing ties between Surf and Gaviota, so there was no other radio traffic but us and the one or two other trains a day that went through.

The dispatcher was Dave Duran who had just gotten back to work from being off for a lap over, and he was trying to give a bunch of warrants to the late Carl Rogoza.
Duran comes on the radio with "SP 9304 East you are authorized to proceed East in seven blocks Goleta through Santa Sana." (Thats how he pronounced Santa Susana.)
Carl answers him back with "Yeah this is the SP 9304 East and we got seven blocks, Goleta through Santa Sana.  Dave comes back with "SP 9304 East you are authorized to proceed East in seven blocks, Goleta thru Santa Sana."  Carl says "Yeah this is the SP 9304 and we got seven blocks, Goleta through Santa Sana."  Dave comes back with "SP 9304 we are going to do this until you get it right, SP 9304 East you are authorized to proceed East in seven blocks, Goleta through Santa Sana."  Carl comes back with "Yeah, that's what I said, we got seven blocks, Goleta          and all at once he stops and because we are close to him and no other radio traffic around, we han hear Ken Waage his engineer yelling "shut up Shut up!" in the background!
Several seconds later, Ken comes on the radio with "SP 9304 East, we are authorized to proceed East in seven blocks, Goleta through Santa Susana."  Duran immediately comes back with "SP 9304 East Conductor Rogoza, seven blocks complete at 1154 am, didpatcher DCD.
G



Date: 02/03/17 15:59
Re: Wide awake now!
Author: Fredo

He should have just let Carl blow the whistle.



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