Harmon Shops is the large brick shop complex built around 1906 in Croton
Harmon NY at the end of the Electric part of the Hudson Division. They still
stand. At Harmon Shop they can change out an prime mover, they have a wheel
trueing machine and can handle most every need that Metro North has. They
also open the entire place to the public one day a year. I believe this year
it will be October 14th.
As a kid we used to walk through Harmon Shop just to see what was up. Nobody
much seemed to notice us and we just walked on through like we belonged.
Once in a great while somebody would chase us out but it was rare.
So one fine Monday in May of 1980, I make an official call on the Harmon
Shop. The sign inside the doorway noted that the HARMON TRAINING CENTER was
upstairs. But I already knew that having paid a few visits to the shop
foreman's office when I was in my teens.
The class was about 40 people. I and one other guy I came to learn later,
were the only college boys in the group. Usually I refrain from mentioning
railroad people by name but there will be a couple of exceptions here
because I do not believe anything I will say will be detrimental or
embarrassing to anyone. There was track foreman Griffith and I believe Nick
Montleone (if I spelled that correctly). The room was warm and without
airconditioning. We spent the morning with handouts that described tools and
we spent a lot of time talking about the different tools and thier use. One
that I remember vividly was a device that could be used to pull a spike from
in between the rails in a frog. It was kind of like a wrench with fat rings
around the long handle at regular intervals. I can't remember what the tool
was called but the idea was that you used the spike puller on the rings to
pull the spike out from some place like a frog when there was no room for
the puller itself.
After that we were given a half hour for lunch and invited to taste the
cuisine in the little greasy spoon right out in the parking lot. It was
greasy. I think it is still there.
The rest of the afternoon was spent talking about the M Form. We covered
this in the Sperry Car stories so I will assume that we all know what it is.
They had an overhead projector and were showing four tracks. They confused
everyone by showing the actual numbering of the tracks instead
of just saying 1-2-3-4. Also some of my classmates were not as proficient in
english as others.
Anyway the lesson went something like this, "You are working on track number
two for which you have an M Form. There is a train coming on track one and
track four. What do you do?"
They invited one guy up to show where he should stand and he pointed to the
Hudson River which had been drawn into the picture. Another guy ran to the
far side of track three.....You get the picture. The correct answer is to
stand in the out of service track. The foreman, I think it was Griffith,
looked disgusted. They explained the correct answer and went over the
importance of the M Form again. This was at first, kind of funny to me.
Admittedly I already knew what an M Frorm was and had a run a red because of
it while in Sperry Service, so I guess I am not too bright either.
But some of these guys did not get it the second time either.
they also made a big deal about the fact that ANYONE in the gang could ask
to see the M FORM. I never did but they insisted that you could...........
I am going to see if I can find that folder from 1980. There may be some
interesting things in there to talk about...........