From the Archives The SRS 145 Part 16
- I have had a few fleeting thoughts about things that happened 27 years ago
on the SRS 145. For the most part I have tried to keep this chronological.
And the other day I was sitting with a couple of railfans talking about the
Sperry Car when this story came to mind..................
Let me tell you a little about the Chief, Ivan. He was a strong man with big
forearms but just about my height. He tended not to talk much but as Chief
when he spoke you listened. In public he did not talk all that much except
For what it is worth, in the event I ever have to face Ivan after writing
all this down, I had a great deal of respect for him. I was young,
impressionable and I wanted this job.
Another aside. It just came to mind like a flash. The Sperry men used to
write on the rail with a lumber crayon. For instance it might be defect
number 190 on this test, a bolt hole fracture , six inches long. that would
translate into BHF 6" 190. You marked the spot with a piece of DY tape held
down with some ballast.
Ivan on one of the first days, was on the ground showing me whatever the
offending defect was and said, "Okay junor, mark it."
"Well I do not have a crayon "I remarked.
Ivan took his, broke it in half and gave it to me.
Couple nights later we are at dinner or the bar and Ivan turns to me.
"Junor, where's your crayon and Ivan pulls his out of his pocket.
Well you can guess that I had no idea where my crayon was.
this continued a few times until I ALWAYS carried my crayon. I stopped by a
lumber yard on a Saturday and bought a crayon, broke it in half or maybe
even three and ALWAY carried that stupid yellow crayon.
One of the guys on the car was Rodger and one evening while enjoying a
repast Ivan, after needling me about the crayon starts in on old Rodger.
This fellow was a little older than me but a whole lot taller and bigger.
We are at the Bar and Ivan asks Rodger where his crayon is. He passes over
Ivan's comment and then Ivan turns to me and says, "Junor, where's your
Naturally I produce it immediately. I was building bridges now and making
friends. Well maybe not.
Ivan did want us to be Sperry Men. He used the phrase often and in the
upcoming segments we are going to hear about a couple of events that would
have caused some people to quit Sperry. Ivan would not (and did not ) try to
talk us out of it. If you were going to be a Sperry man thatwas fine but you
were not going to get handled with kid gloves. This was a dangerous
environment and Ivan was going to do what he could to keep you safe. But if
you got scared or did something stupid, he was not about to baby you.
Anyway all this leads up to this conversation one night. We had the steak on
our barbeque and enjoyed a couple of brews and were sitting inthe dining
room talking. I do not know how the conversation rolled around to it but it
became just me and Ivan (despite the fact that there were four of us in the
"Ivan there are two kinds of third rail", I said.
"Junor", he paused, "there's only one kind of third rail"
"No Ivan you are wrong, there are two kinds of third rail, Overrunning and
Underrunning" I retorted.
Ivan had a habit of kind of rolling his teeth (You Sperry guys will know
what I mean) when he was a little agitated.
He was rolling them big time. This debate went on for ten minutes. Ivan was
sitting across the table from me. Jimmy Langdon Jr was sitting next to Ivan.
Rodger was on my left.
Finally jimmy kicked me under the table and said aloud "Junor" His face was
a little red. I think he was afraid that I was pushing Ivan. I was. There
was something in the way that Ivan was looking at me that made it all seem
"No Ivan, with all due respect, there are two kinds of third rail and I
think you know it!" I said.
Jimmy Langdon was really worried. Rodger may have figured out what was going
on but if he did he showed no sign of it.
I grinned at Ivan after having made my last statement.
Ivan turned his head toward Jimmy.
"Junior's right there are two kinds of third rail, " Ivan said.
Jimmy did not know what to say. One minute Junior doesn't know what he is
ntalking about, the next minute he is right. (I have the disturbing feeling
I have told you all this story before).
"I wanted to see if Junior would stand his ground," Ivan said
Jimmy looked relieved. Ridger still did not get it.I knew I had scored
really big points with the chief. this was yet another character building
kinds of things but this time I had absolutely no apprehension about it. I
was right and I knew that Ivan knew I was right. The conversation seemed so
I think we turned in early that night.
I am done for now................but let me ask you. Whats in your archives
Two to go .............