March 2001

Gibtown Show, NYC RR Close Call

As I write this I am in Sarasota Florida getting things set up for the upcoming show at Gibsontown, Commonly called the Gibtown show. For those of you who have not been there it is a very fine show conducted by the International Independent Showmen's Association. This year we are having a very large display containing the model 2000M Stinson organ built for the Astro Amusement Company, one Stinson model 29 cart mounted organ and two sound systems.

As I was traveling down the road thinking about the new custom unit we are delivering for the Cumberland Valley Shows I recalled a very interesting incident with that company. At that time I was called by the late Jimmy Floyd to do some repairs on one of their organs and decided to take one man and my truck camper instead of the usual motels. At the end of the first work day Bill and I decided to pick up some fried chicken and other things to take back to the camp ground. In those days there was a chicken place, which served regular chicken and some very hot chicken so we bought a bag of each and headed for the camp?ground. On the way Bill decided to eat a chicken leg on the way and just happened to open the one with the extra hot chicken and ate the first bite before the commotion started. He tried to say something, which I could not understand, spit out the chicken and was working as fast as possible trying to get a can of pop opened to cool him down. I think they might have spilled the hot sauce in it or were just trying to get two Yankees out of their southern town. We ate the mild chicken and set the other bag aside to throw away later and turned in for the night.

Bill made his bunk at the back of the camper next to the screen door and settled in.

A short time later I was awakened by a loud yell and Bill was just laying there look?ing one of the largest black dogs I have ever seen looking him right in the eye. We did not know where he came from as we were the only one in the campground and were at the farthest point from the entrance. After getting over his scare we both decided the big dog might be friendly but Bill wanted him gone before he went back to sleep I told Bill to feed him the hot chicken and see if it killed him or just sent him for the water hole to cool off.

Bill opened the door and threw out the chicken, which the big dog ate and left. Bill looked at me and said we or no one else would ever be bothered by that dog again but we were wrong. We were there several nights and the big dog came back each night for more. Now I cannot speak dog language but I think those few loud barks might have been interpreted to say YOU GUYS GOT ANY MORE OF THAT GOOD STUFF FOR ME TONIGHT? We fed him every night until we left for home.

And so it was in the old organ shop.


Back at the old New York Central Railroad

I suppose every apprentice boy is entitled to at least one mistake charged up to stupidity and I had one never told until today.

I had been there for about three years and they set me up to work as a full electrician with full journeyman's pay. We had a locomotive come in which would not move and I was given the job of finding out why. The locomotive was in a back stall of the roundhouse just a few feet from the large doors, which were closed.

Upon entering the cab I made what could have been the worst mistake of my life and set the controls in reverse and started looking for the trouble. After a few minutes I found a loose connection on a relay coil and when I touched it the locomotive jumped toward the doors. Quick thinking on my part saved the day when I grabbed the relay and pulled it out with my fingers and held it there thinking how to get out of the mess I had made by my stupid mistake. If I released the relay we would be going through the door and down into the turntable pit. I was lying on the floor holding the relay and could not reach any other controls and had nothing in my pocket to put between the contact points. At this time I started to think of the dire consequences if I could not get out of the situation. When a locomotive ended up in the pit the wreck crew would be called in and every official of the whole division would be called in to help the situation which usually was to rip everyone out starting from the top and working down to the offender which in this case would be me.

After lying there for about five minutes with no one coming in the direction of my locomotive I looked up to the fuel pump switch and found I could just reach it with my foot if I stretched out as far as I could. I turned off the fuel pump with my foot and waited until the engine quit and only then could I get up from the floor and breathe easily again. I put the locomotive in neutral, tightened the loose connection, and left the cab just as the boss walked up and asked how the job was progressing. My answer was "just fine boss, the repairs are finished" and walked off without letting him know how close we were to closing down the whole division if I had put the locomotive through the doors and down in the turntable pit.

And so it was in the old roundhouse.


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