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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Practical Jokes - 3

Date: 04/01/20 18:24
Practical Jokes - 3
Author: TAW

I had an inventive practical joke played on me when I was bumped into the B&OCT 75th Street tower. In 1968, 75 was a mankiller on good days. The vast quantity of alcohol consumed there was reputed if not well known. Most of the guys who worked there were better operators after a 6-pack than most others were sober. I didn’t drink while working there (or anywhere else) but I wound up in a hospital for a couple of days. Maybe drinking would have helped.
The tower door was on the ground level and the stairs were inside. I came to work on my first day learning the job. The door was locked. I knocked and pounded on the door. I threw ballast stones at the windows. There was no response. It was January and cold. Finally, the operator, PEH, opened a window and told me to knock it off and go away. I told him I was supposed to break in with him. He told me that wasn’t about to happen. I responded that I was the guy that JBN bumped out of McCook. He sounded surprised. He told me that I was ok, someone told him the superintendent’s son was coming to break in with him. He came down and opened the door. In the sink, there were two 6-packs with the cold water running to keep them cold.
We got along fine. He was one of the best towermen I worked with. When I relieved him, everything was in good shape-no jams, no jackpots, no big delays. When I was ‘spatchin’ I could depend on him to manage the traffic in a way that never screwed up what I was doing.
He taught me an interesting trick. The Pennsy, being the Standard Railroad of the World, didn’t care who they screwed up. In fact, sometimes they would make a point of screwing up other railroads. PC was running what fans would now call PSR trains. They only ran one train a day but it would be three trains worth. They made a habit of holding them out of 59th Street yard at the south end, 71st Street, after telling 75 to let the train go. It wouldn’t take long to turn 75 into a hopeless mess that could take hours to clean up if a train stopped on the plant for more than a couple of minutes. We had a Pennsy block phone that connected Beverly Jct, 75, and 59th Street yardmaster.
A big westbound Pennsy stopped at 71st Street and sat, blocking the plant. PEH, my mentor, showed me how to deal with them. He told me to go the block phone and tell the yardmaster to move the train. I got a sarcastic answer from the yardmaster and was told that he was too busy right now.  PEH said we would wait five minutes and he would show me how to do it. He rang the yardmaster and said This is Mr. Hard, how many times do we have to tell you about this crossing? We need this train moved now. The reply was Yes sir, I’ll get him going right away.


Date: 04/03/20 09:37
Re: Practical Jokes - 3
Author: linton122

Thanks for the story. For the uninitiated, who is "Mr. Hard?"


Date: 04/03/20 12:39
Re: Practical Jokes - 3
Author: TAW

linton122 Wrote:
> Thanks for the story. For the uninitiated, who is
> "Mr. Hard?"

PEH, Pat Hard, the first trick towerman I was breaking in with. Identifying as Mr. Hard instead of just being the towerman was enough to imply high-level authority without having it.


Date: 07/30/20 13:19
Re: Practical Jokes - 3
Author: funnelfan

LOL, you as the trainee played a key role in that ruse. The yardmaster could only assume that after he hung up on you, you called your boss, who then called his boss, who then.......until 5 minutes later when big whig Mr Hard called this poor little yardmaster ready to rain down fire up him for blocking the plant. Timing is EVERYTHING!

Ted Curphey
Cheney, WA

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