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Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: February 16, 2020, 02:37:07 PM »
                                   THE REST OF THE STORY

If you think teenagers have learned anything since the 1950's, just look at this.

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: February 15, 2020, 03:58:39 PM »
Saturday Report - 2-15-20  Temperature in the mid 70's and sunny here in Central Florida

The weekly meeting of the Board of Directors convened at 0830 hours.  The Board inspected the progress of the past week including installation of the facia on the Tahope Peninsula.  Some new palm trees were delivered for placement as the progress heads towards the Big Tahope River. 

The morning's railroading included a work-out for the ACL Alco S2 and a freight run of SAL F3's, and, with a power change, a GP7.  We are experiencing some problems with old (and I mean old) WOW Sound decoders.  The problems are with decoders that are so old they do not even have "Version 1" on them.  TCS happily replaces these old decoders with new and improved ones. 

Greg DeMayo arrived about 10:00 and participated in the fun until we went to lunch at Smokey Bones. 

After lunch we ran an 0-6-0 switcher and a 2-8-0 so we could hear the sound of steam.  An easy day on the A&S.

    The idea for today's story comes from a 1939 edition of Railroad Magazine, which in those days cost $.15. 

                                                                                                  First Day on the Job as a Fireman

    Willie Mason, a Tahope native, signed onto the Atlantic & Southern Railroad right after he came home from Europe after WWII.  He began working in the roundhouse but was soon promoted to brakeman.  He broke steam freight for three years and found himself on the extra board as a fireman.  Willie fired steam for a year and gained enough seniority to bid on a diesel-powered through freight that originated in Sanlando Yard and terminated in Jacksonville. 
    The first day on the job found Willie at the Sanlando diesel facility boarding a consist of three Seabord E7's.  The engineer that day was Michael O'Sullivan, a serious type, who was a 22-year veteran of the right-side seat.  O'Sullivan pulled the diesels out of the service facility and onto the mainline, heading for the yard lead into Sanlando Yard where the mixed freight consisting of 21 billboard reefers and a caboose had been assembled by the yard crew.  O'Sullivan coupled the E7's to the train. The brakeman connected the air hose to the engines and inspected the first few cars to make sure their brakes were operable.  After twenty minutes or so, the conductor signaled the air was good in the rear of the train and O'Sullivan eased the train out onto the mainline.  Two reefers were dropped at the Piney Woods Freight Station and O'Sullivan turned to his fireman, who was sitting in his chair with nothing to do, and said, "Willie, how would you lie to take her to Summit?"  Willie, who had never run a diesel locomotive in his life, was excited, to say the least.  He moved over to the engineer's seat and gingerly pulled the throttle a notch at a time until the engine speed indicator was at 49 mph, the maximum speed allowed between Piney Woods and the Ovalix. 
    The trip was uneventful until the train rounded a blind curve that hid a rural crossing at the Tahope Highway Intersection. To Willie's horror, there was a yellow 1947 Ford Coupe stopped on the track.  It appeared to be occupied by teenagers.  Willie pulled the knob that turned on the bell and gave repeated short blasts of the diesel's horn, to no avail.  The Ford just sat there.  Wilie panicked and put the brake into emergency, just about the time the driver of the Ford pulled off the track and waived, with his middle finger extended. 
    Unlike our familiar understanding of braking systems in automobiles - where an increase in pressure translates to an increase in braking power - air brakes on a train run in the opposite way.  By default, the air brake system is closed (the brakes are on).  When running, the air is pumped to fill brake cylinders on each car and the brakes are "opened."  When a triain engineer wants to apply brakes, he causes a reduction in the air pressure and that causes the brakes to "close," slowing the train in accordance with the amount of the reduction.  The logic of this system is if there is a pressure failure in the braking system, the brakes will automatically engage, thereby reducing the likelihood that a train would speed out of control. 
    When the emergency brake is applied there is a rapid loss of pressure, draining all of the air out of the brake cylinders, and the brakes slam shut.  As you can guess, this will cause the train to stop.  If the train is moving at speed, the stop will be violent and can result in a derailment.  Additionally, once the brakes are set for emergency, the train must come to a complete stop and the air must come back up to pressure before the train can move.
    The train passed the crossing and came to a stop about a half a mile down the track.  The conductor demanded an explanation as Willie waited for the the air to be recovered.  O'Sullivan addressed him, saying, "Well, Willie, did you learn anything today?"
    Willie, who was shaken up by the near-miss, went off on a tirade about how could those kids be so foolish and how it would have been a tragedy if their car had stalled.  O'Sullivan calmed him down and said, "That's why we never go to emergency until we see the fenders fly.  If we put the train into emergency every time one of these idiots pulls this stunt, either on purpose or through inattention, we would have the train in emergency on nearly every trip.  Eventually, our number would come up and we would have the train in a ditch, which could be devastating."
     It took over thirty minutes for the air to recover and for the dispatcher to give clearance for Willie to proceed to Summit.  On the way, he contemplated the valuable lesson he learned on his first day as a fireman on a diesel.

                                                                                                         The Scene of the Emergency


                                                                                                Crossing the Tahope Highway intersection Safely


Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic and Southern Build Thread Continued, Part 3
« on: February 14, 2020, 03:40:45 PM »
I wonder when stripes were first applied to the edges of the roads?  Seems like I remember roads without stripes well into the '50s or maybe the early 6o's. 

Ah, yes - Seri just told me that the first striping of roads in the U. S. was in 1911 in Michigan. They got the idea from a leaky milk truck. The stripes were used as intersection stop signs beginning in 1926.  In the 1950's, yellow lines made their appearance.  The dashed lines in the road are 10' long.  It's government regulation.
DOT uses 1.6 million gallons of road paint per year. 

I can't find when the edge stripes appeared.  But since Tahope County is set in 1950-1951, it is probably ahead of its time with road striping.  "Paving the Way to Progress!" ought to be Tahope County's motto.

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: February 09, 2020, 06:33:13 AM »
Dave - The only likeness we have been able to thus far find of Maggie Hussy is a short video taken when she was fishing in the Tahope River at age 15.  The video is on page 29 under The Rest of the Story.  Look for the link below the Pullman story. 

I am looking for more current photographs that I can publish on this G rated forum. 

The Judge

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: February 08, 2020, 05:01:53 PM »
Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report - February 8, 2020.  Weather in Central Florida Sunny, not a cloud in the sky, temperature Mid-70's.

The Board of Directors met at 0830.  The only item on the agenda was the disposition of a Seaboard Air Line Baldwin V1000 switcher.  It was decided to install WOW Sound in it and add it to the roster.  The installation will be a challenge because the body shell is not roomy.  WOW Sound now has a couple of Baldwin prime mover sounds on its decoders and one is the V1000 engine.

Today's story takes us back to the Trackside Tavern.

                                                                                                 Doins at the Trackside Tavern

    The Trackside Tavern's new owner decided to expand the hours of operation and the diversions available to the beer joint's customers.  The back room was converted into a casino with tables for poker, craps, and blackjack.  The gambling was strictly illegal, but the profits were worth the risk.  And the City Council members were regularly in attendance.  The casino operation was managed by a sinister-looking gentleman of Chinese extraction named Charlie Wu.  Charlie had a 21-year-old daughter named Yum Yum Wu, and she ran the blackjack table.  The house rule was if you could beat Yum Yum at blackjack you would win $100.  No one ever beat her.  The customers dubbed the casino operation as "The House of Not-a-Chance." 
    Charlie also supervised the girls who provided entertainment in the bar.  The girls were supposed to provide the house with one-third of their tips for their employment as independent contractors.
    One evening towards closing time, the jukebox lured the crowd away from the backroom to give their attention to the evening's entertainment on stage.  The girls danced and wiggled and collected a considerable remuneration for their efforts.  The favorite dancer was, of course, Magnolia (Maggie) Hussy, who had recently been released from custofdy on matters not pertinent here.
    Charlie accused Maggie of skimming her tips and demanded to see the stash she kept in her garter.  It was obvious that Maggie was not reporting her earnings so Charlie fired her on the spot.
    Maggie decided she would take her act elsewhere and packed her things for a trip on the Champion to Jacksonville, where sinning was more profitable. 
    The next evening, A&S switchmen, Burns and Garbury, happened by the depot on their way to work the midnight shift in Sanlando Yard.  They saw Maggie sitting on a baggage cart waiting for the train.  Upon inquiry, they learned Maggie was out of work so they organized a group of regulars to go discuss the matter with the Tavern's management. 
    Charlie explained that Maggie was a thief and he couldn't abide by her dishonesty.  "Besides," said Charlie, "inexpensive women like Maggie are a dime a dozen." 
    Maggie, as you might imagine, had quite a following with the crowd that gathered to express their concern over the turn of events.  They held a conference and decided to offer a solution.  Burns and Gadbury asked Charlie if he would give Maggie her job back if she paid $50 each night upfront and kept all the rest of her earnings.  That seemed fair to Charlie and Maggie was rehired. 
    Later that night, she returned to her boxcar in The Bottoms for a little turtle soup and a glass of white corn liquor before counting out the $250 she made after paying Charlie $50. 



                                                                                                       Charlie Wu


                                                                   Charlie's daughter, Yum Yum Wu

John - I cannot help but comment.  Yellow is probably my favorite color.  You have made it blend into your scenes remarkably well.  We don't get fall colors down here in the swamp so my appreciation of what you have done is doubled.  Keep it going!  Did the GN ever have a yellow caboose? 

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: February 01, 2020, 04:16:04 PM »
Saturday Morning Report - February 1, 2020.  Temperature in mid-60's and rainy.
    The Board of Directors met promptly at 0830 hours and discussed the need for diesel switchers.  It was decided to keep two ALCO S-2 switchers (ACL and SAL) for use in the two yards and perhaps keep two EMD switchers as well. 
     The newly acquired Southen passenger train was moved to the Bottoms and the L&N passenger train, which is powered by two E6A units, climbed the 1 percent grade up the Ovalix to the Midlands for a run through Sanlando and Piney Woods.  Then it climbed to Summit and made a run until nearly 11:00 a.m. 
    Gregg Demayo arrived about 10:15 and he accompanied us to Smokey Bones for lunch. 
    After lunch, we changed motive power on the L&N streamliner by coupling an L&N L-1 4-8-2 onto the consist.  The steamer pulled the eight-car mixed smooth side and heavyweight cars without difficulty on level track, although we are sure that helper service will be needed ascending the Ovalix.
    A good time was had by all and the management is particularly proud of the progress made on the south end of the railroad.

   Today's story continues our survey of different railroad occupations.  The words "boomer" and "brakey" sort of go together.

                                                                                                         Vanishing Types

                                                                                                              The Boomer

    The Boomer was an itinerant railroader who traveled light, skipping at short notice from one railroad to another, sometimes just ahead of the law.  A boomer would sign on as a "brakey" on railroads like the A&S after a cursory interview, usually by the yardmaster.  Back in the link and pin days, those applicants with missing fingers were selected because they had "experience."  The new hires would be issued a "Pie Book" which contained a number of "pie cards" that were supposed to hold him over until payday for meals at Sweaty Betty's Diner.  The cost of the "Pie Book" was deducted from the boomer's first paycheck.
    The golden age of the boomers ended after WWI when hiring practices became more formal and by the mid-'20s railroaders would grouse about having to have a college education to heave coal.  Careful screening is the current hiring practice on the A&S, although being related to a current employee seems to give an advantage, much like the hiring practices in the Florida prison system.  Of course, nearly everyone in Tahope County is related in some way or other by blood, marriage, or intermarriage.  In fact, Tahope residents don't cotton to strangers and they find it is hard to fit into Tahope's "sassiety."
    Roger Russel, who was out on parole from Louisiana, wandered into Tahope from Jacksonville one day looking for work.  He tried his hand at one thing or another but he just couldn't fit in.  Finally, he walked into the A&S roundhouse and applied for a position with the A&S Railroad. 
    The Assistant Roundhouse Forman, Tater Cartwright, who had been born and raised in Tahope, hired him on as a car toad on the company RIP track.  Car toads make on the spot repairs to freight cars and perform maintenance on them. 
    Naturally, in 1950, it was customary to subject new hires to a certain amount of good-natured hazing as a form of welcome.  One of Russel's duties was to tote his boss' tool box about so Russel was ordered to bring the box to the car being repaired, only to find the box had been nailed to the wooden platform.  The boss shouted in feigned impatience, expressing his amazement at the delay.  Another incident occurred when six car toads were required to move a heavy wooded sill from one end of the RIP track platform to the other.  The men lifted the sill to their shoulders and, with Russel in the middle, the others suddenly stooped down, putting all of the weight on Russel and causing him to collapse.  Then there was the fireman who "accidentally" drenched Russel with the hose used to clean the coal dust off of the apron deck in front of the locomotive tender. 
    Russel endured the teasing with good humor.  He had learned a few things in the "joint" and he always went the extra mile to please his superiors.  He even volunteered to be a dope puller, the lowest job a car toad could be assigned.  The advantage of being a dope puller was the work was in the yard away from the RIP track platform. 
    A dope puller was assigned to inspect the hubs of freight cars awaiting transfer in the Sanlando freight yard.  It was the dope puller's job t extract "dope," (the greasy waste in the journal box of each wheel) and replace it with clean waste and grease, thus preventing "hot boxes" from friction on the revolving axel inside the journal box.  The dope puller accomplished this task by removing the dope from each journal box with a hook and placing it in a wheelbarrow.  Then he would replace the old dope with new dope.  Needless to say, the wheelbarrow was soon filled with a black greasy substance that gave new meaning to "hot and filthy."  The fact that one of Russel's co-workers gave him a friendly push backwards into the wheelbarrow filled with tar-like dope was the last straw. 
    Russel, who emerged from the wheelbarrow looking like he had been tarred without the feathers, decided to draw his road stake and strike out for the FEC.

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: January 26, 2020, 09:31:22 AM »
Saturday Report January 26, 2020.  Weather in Tahope County - Sunny and 50 degrees.  High expected - 66 degrees.

There is no formal Saturday Report today.  However, there is a story.

                                                                                           SOKOL FURNITURE AND MATTRESS COMPANY
  The Sokol Furniture and Mattress Factory is located on the outskirts of the City of Tahope, just north of the Tahope River Bridge.  It was founded by Marty Sokol in 1887.  It survived the panic of 1893 largely because of its location next to the railroad tracks of the A&S Railroad.  Marty Sokol shipped furniture made from Florida pine and oak to Jacksonville and as far north as Savannah and Charleston.  Because his furniture was of superior quality, his products were brought to the attention of George M. Pulman, who, by that time, was one of the era's famous millionaires.  Pullman contracted with Sokol to furnish some of his private palace cars.  Pullman recommended Sokol to one of his buddies, Henry M. Flagler, who purchased furniture from Sokol to furnish many of his hotels, which were popping up all along Florida's east coast.  Sokol's reputation spread throughout the burgeoning Florida hotel industry and the company's customer base included the finest hotels in the state. 
  Marty Sokol's son, Manny, took over the business after WWI and survived the Great Depression due to the company's hotel customers. 
  By 1950, the City of Tahope was dominated by five industries, including the Atlantic & Southern Railroad, the Florida Citrus and cattle industry, the petroleum distribution center, the honey apiary, and Sokol's Furniture and Mattress Company.  Sokol's employed over 40 skilled craftsmen carpenters, finishers, weavers, and upholsterers on a year-round basis and took on some part-time help during the busy summer season.
  In January 1950, Manny Sokol was looking for a secretary/office assistant.  He advertised in the Tahope Daily Blatter and got a good response from several young women who had just graduated from Tahope High School, including a perky little former cheerleader named Peaches Weaver.  (You remember Peaches, don't you?  She celebrated her 18th birthday in the back seat of a 1950 Buick Roadmaster that belonged to her boyfriend's father.  See pp. 10-11).  Peaches had been an "A" student and could type and file so she was hired on the spot. 
  Marty decided to finance a marketing campaign to increase his market share form the sale of mattresses to the local citizens.  He hired a marketing consultant who recommended that he utilize some of the local talent to kick off the big sale.  He renovated part of the front of the factory building to include a glass window display and installed a fully furnished bedroom for observation of passing customers.  He placed an advertisement on the wall by the front entrance for a mattress tester.

                                                LANKY, LAZY LOUT WHO CAN SLEEP AT LEAST 12 HOURS STRAIGHT AS A MATTRESS TESTER.  SALARY, $2.00 A DAY. 
                                                                                             NO PRIOR EMPLOYMENT EXPERIENCE NECESSARY

  Days went by, which turned into weeks, and no applicants responded for the job. 
  Donnie (Shortstack) Turner had just gotten out of jail for molesting a blue crab trap when he stumbled by Sokol's on his way to nail a drag back to the Bottoms.  He happened upon the ad when he stopped at the factory for a handout.  Feeling fully qualified, he decided to put off celebrating his new found freedom and apply for the job, saying, "I cain't go home to the Bottoms, they needs me here."  Shortstack presented himself to the president's office and asked Peaches for a job application.  He told her he had just gotten out of jail and all they gave him there was "three hots and a cot" and this job would be a great improvement. 
  Well, Shortstack was given a shower and a shave and furnished with a brand new pair of pajamas.  Then he was shown to his bed and Peaches instructed him on his duties.  Shortstack, a great admirer of feminine pulchritude, asked her if she would like to help him test the mattress.  That was a mistake.  No sooner than when he got the words out of his mouth two rather large furniture movers, who worked as bouncers at Butts Bar-B-Que on Saturday nights  showed him the door.  That ended Shortstack's mattress testing career.
  But, as Shortstack said to his fellow bums when he returned to the Bottoms, "At least I got a shower, a shave, and a new pair of pajamas.  Let's hope he got a bowl of Mulligan stew and a drink of "corn squeezins' to quench his thurst.


                                                                                     Skokol's has 40 lights installed in and around the building

                                                                                          The loading dock at Sokol's is a busy place.

                                                                  This is Peaches.  The photo appeared in the "The Swamp Cabbage," her high school yearbook.   


Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: January 25, 2020, 05:03:02 PM »

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: January 18, 2020, 04:01:54 PM »
Saturday Report January 18, 2020.  Central Florida Temperature - High 70's and clear.

This week's Saturday Report will not contain a weekly "story" because the Forum is under renovation and photographs cannot be guaranteed for posting.  Unfortunately, this week's story had several photographs.  So, this week's Report will only memorialize today's activities on the A&S Railroad.  Next week's report will be with story, hopefully, but without Report, because it is the Babe's Saturday for travel to Mount Dora to have her hair done.

The weekly meeting of the Board of Directors convened promptly at 0830 hours.  The Board was given an opportunity to view the completed Cresent Limited passenger train, composed of Walthers Mainline cars with lighting installed.  The train consists of two back-to-back Southern E8 A units decked out in green, white and gold, followed by the only brand new, freshly painted REA freight car ever seen on any railroad, a baggage/RPO car, a baggage/lounge car, four coaches, a dinner, two sleepers, and a sleeper/lounge observation car.  The train performed reasonably well on it maiden voyage, except the dinner car had a tendency to derail.  (It seems like therer is one problem car in every passenger train.)  Fortunately, the A&S car maintenance team got right on it and successfully corrected the problem with the defective truck.  All cars are lighted, but, wouldn't you know it, the dinner light doesn't work.  Due to installation difficulties with the car, it will have to be scrapped and replaced wtih one of its identical twins.  Too bad, after all that work (fun) fixing the derail problem.

The Cresent traveled around  Summit and drifted down the Ovalix to the Midlands and back with ease.  It is an impressive train.  However, all readers who are interested in purchasing these Mainline cars should beware!  The installation of the lighting system is more trouble than it is worth.  The instructions are poor and the parts do not always fit.  Besides, the kits will not work reliably unless some soldering is done to make a good electrical connection.  Our car maintenance department recommends spending the extra bucks and buying the regular Walthers cars.  Additionally, some of the cars need paint touch-up and one would expect a better product from Waltthers.

We spent much of the morning admiring the progress on the South end of the railroad.  Beehives have been delivered to the Apiary and it should be a going business soon.  The bees are expected to produce hundreds of pints of Orange Blossom Honey regularly, thereby increasing A&S revenue shipments "up Nawth" during the spring and summer.

                                                                                                         WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT!

  Officer and Mrs. Eldridge Poovey recently announced the marriage of their daughter, Daffodil, to George (Crack-a-Diamond) Musselwhite.  Daffy is a recent graduate of Tahope County High School, where she excelled in shop and auto mechanics.  George is a fireman for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad.  The wedding took place at the City of Tahope Police Station under armed guard.  The bride wore her new Levi skirt, jacket and tennis shoes.  The groom, who was handcuffed, wore his "Sunday-go-to-meeting suit, with his fireman's hat and bandana.  The couple will honeymoon at Delwin's Fish Camp.  Their first child is expected in March of this year.   

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: January 13, 2020, 05:26:38 PM »
Karl - While I thank you for the compliment, I cannot take credit for Sokol's.  That was the artistic work of Reading Bob Butts.  Forty lights!  I almost can't count that high.  Wouldn't have a reason to except for my age, which is 41.

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: January 11, 2020, 04:01:28 PM »
Atllatic & Sourhern Saturday Report - January 10, 2020 Temperature in Central Florida, Partly cloudy, 81 degrees

The Board of Directors met promptly at 0830 hours and spent considerable time deciding how to "thin out" our passenger car inventory.  Sooo, if any of you are chomping at the bit for Walthers passenger cars of the Pennsy or Southern RR persuasion, we've got 'em and they are going on Ebay unless you speak up. 

Our guests today were the usual suspects , including Curt Webb, Greg DeMayo, and (late arrival) Bob Butts.  Bob was given an all 'round attaboy for his lighting efforts on Sokols Furniture Factory.  Bob, who must have infinate patience, installed forty lights inside and on the exterior of the building.  The A&S electric bill will undoubtedly go up accordingly.   Here is a pic of the finished product.  Much better photo coverage next week after detailing and landscaping has been done.


Our TCS Wow Sound intaller has come out of retirement and he installed new decoders in our new Southern E8's.  We wonder why Walthers thinks LOC Sound is a good system for locomotives.  We are very disappointed in the product and both of the decoders that came with our new E8's were defective.    These units are no longer available and, while it stretched the A&S budget, we were glad to get them.  See page 28 for a photo.  Probably more pics next week. The air tanks on the roof make these models interesting. 

Regular readers of this report will recall the mild complaining about installing lights in Walthers Mainline passenger cars.  Well, we now have six cars on the track and only three to go.

We adjourned to Smokey Bones for lunch and engaged in BS, as usual.

Upon return to "The Shed" we calibrated the new E8's and ran a Southern passenger train.  The lead truck on one car had a wheel out of gage and some other gremlin, causing derailments.  The gage problem was an easy fix and turning the truck the other way around fixed the gremlin. 

This week's story involves a by-gone occupation, the RPO mail clerk. 

                                                                                                         The Origin of "Sack Time"

Almost from the beginning of railroading,until the 1960's, when the airlines stole the business, every passenger train had a Railway Post Office (RPO) car.  The last mail run was in 1977.  The U. S. Mail is the business of the Federal Post Office and the governmnet contracted with the railroads to carry mail to the cities along their ruoutes. 

The mail clerks had to pass a rigoruous examination and they were very skilled and dedicated to the joby of sorting and delivering the mail.  Sometimes the RPO cars also served as baggage cars and sometimes they doubled as crew dormitories, but there was always a crew of clerks who sorted the mail into mail sacks.  Pick-up of mail bags was accomplished by "catching on the fly" through the use of a snagging device called a trackside crane, which was attached to the door of the RPO.  Deliveries were made by simply tossing out the sack of mail from the moving train with enough force to clear the car.  This manual sorting, collecting and delivering was all very low tech, but the government claimed a 99% accuracy rate for delivery. 

THe mail clerks developed a language all their own in order to get the mail sorted, sometimes under great pressure, especially during short trips between stations.  But it was not all work and no play, particularly when the mail stops were many miles apart.

The Atlantic & Southern RR was a government-designated United States Mail Carrier and employed and furnished clerks for all of the railroads that had trackage rights over the A&S.  New employees were called apprentices and were subjected to good-natured hazing until they achieved clerk status. 

Henry Herder was an apprentice on the A&S with a run on ACL's Champion from Tahope to Jacksonville.  He recalled that during the early '50's the mail would be sorted before the train reached Palatka and the clerks could get a little "sack time" from Palatka to Jacksonville.  "Sack time" was literally that.  The RPO had hundreds of mail sacks and those not in immediate use were piled up at the end of the car.  Clerks used to stretch out on the sacks and catch a quick nap. 

Naturally, the clerks who were old-timers liked to have fun with the new apprentices.  One apprentice was told to distribute the mail "nice and evenly" among the sacks without regard to destination.  Another apprentice boasted of the fairest distribution ever made.  Following instructions, he dumped all of the mail on a big table and, when the engineer whistled for a station, he looked to see how big the town was and filled the sack for delivery proportionately before he threw the sack out the door.


                                                                                               RPO Heavyweight at the turn of the Century


                                                                                                            Interrior of RPO in the '20's

The videos below are instructional on how the RPO"s operated during their hay-day.


Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: January 04, 2020, 04:32:17 PM »
Saturday, January 4, 2020.   70 degrees and overcast.

The Board of Directors met this morning promptly at 0830 hours and discussed the pressing question of the day - installation of lighting in the Walthers Mainline passenger cars.  We decided to install lights in two coaches.  Your reporter was given the opportunity to have fun installing the little metal pieces that have to be threaded on the plastic tips that stick out of the forward bulkhead.  Smaller fingers would have helped but after much muttering, the deed was done.  Completed installation on each coach was disappointing.  We got to disassemble the whole thing more than once and determined it was the use of the wrong screws that caused the problem.  Switching the screws around gave us additional confidence in the process of assembly and now we have two more coaches to list on our Southern Roster.  We decided that lights in the RPO/baggage car would be counterproductive so we added it to the fleet sans illumination.

Lunch was at Smokey Bones and back to the layout.  Construction crew has been working on the south end of the A&S (see Tom's thread) and the decision was made to add trees and other scenery in that area instead of more structures, at least on the south side of the Tahope River.  Good decision.  That area is very rural and already has a furniture plant and a pest control business in place.

Happiness and Joy!  Our decoder installer has decided to come out of retirement and two Southrn E8 diesels were delivered to him this afternoon.  This takes much pressure off of the A&S President so he can continue progress on the railroad.

The idea for this week's story came from one of my favorite Mark Twain tales.  I wonder how he would go over on late-night television today.

                                                                                                               THE REA ICEMAN

You may remember Newt Fisher, Luke and Tallula's boy.  Newt lived with his parents in one of the shacks on Eaton's Curve until he moved to the Bottoms at age 32. 

Well, Newt finally managed to get a job with the Railway Express Agency (REA) as a baggage watchman.  His job involved riding in the REA baggage car and protecting the cargo entrusted to his employer.  The job was perfect for Newt because he didn't have to do anything in particular and, while the train was between stations, he could catch some shut-eye.

Some of the REA baggage cars had standard vestibules that allowed access to the rest of the passenger cars.  The car assigned to the Seaboard's Silver Meteor had such a car in January 1950, and Newt was in charge of security for its contents.

Naturally, Newt found it convenient to roam through the train between stations on the trip from Tahope to Jacksonville.

Now, there was a party of salesmen who boarded the Meteor in Tampa who were headed for Washington and they were having a good time playing poker in the club car.  Since none of them were temperance men, they decided to order a drink.  The porter apologized and said, "I'll be happy to git y'all a drink, but there ain't no ice."   

Newt happened to be observing the card game and he offered a solution.  "I've got cargo that has to be iced down and a little won't be missed if I bring it for your convenience."  So Newt disappeared for a few minutes while he retrieved a bucket of ice and the drummers all had a drink.  Newt got free drinks as compensation.
There were refills as the night went on and Newt made several trips to get more ice.

Around midnight, Newt was asked to make another ice run, but he declined.  One of the salesmen offered to pay some cash for more ice but Newt had to politely decline, saying "I sure could use some cash and I could get more ice, but I'm afraid if I take any more off of the corpse it will spoil."

It's good to have a dedicated employee like Newt.

Tom - Not to be a nit-picker or anything, but you misspelled "tires."  In Tahope it is spelled (and pronounced) "tars."  The Roadwork looks good.

Kit Building / Re: 2020 Build Challenge: FSM The Rock Bunker
« on: January 02, 2020, 10:34:09 AM »
John - This kit should be a true test of artistic modeling.  A daunting challenge.  But you are up to it.  I will follow along with the others.  You should finish the kit quickly since you are enjoying the winter season and can't do much else.  It's a summy 70 degrees where I sit.  Sorry about that.

BTW, Happy New Year to you!

The Judge

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