From the Archives F.C.Edwards Part 6
- Ed note: For those of you who feel you need to know, this is absolutely
true. For those of you who may have already heard the story, my
As I have noted, my place at CD was in the armchair to the right of Frank.
This was because there were telephones that he needed to access on his left.
One was a Bell Phone. Let me explain that for those who do not know. Once
upon a time there was the Bell System. If you wanted to make a phone call,
you did it on the Bell System. There were no cell phones, no Sprint no MCI.
On the railroad Bell phones were if not rare, guarded. This was to keep
people from making long distance calls at the railroad's expense. by the way
SPRINT was originally owned by the Southern Pacific railroad.
Thanks for the lesson on the history of the Telecommunications Industry
Riverlinejoe but could you get to the point!
Well every afternoon right about 3:15, the Bell phone would ring. Frank
would pick it up, yell "Half Hour" and then slam the phone back down. As I
became a fixture in the tower this changed to hearing the phone ring,
looking at me, rolling his eyes, then picking it up, barking, "Half Hour"
and replacing the phone back in the cradle.
One afternoon Frank and I were sitiing there talking and the bell phone
rang. Frank looked over, then swiveled his chair, picked up the Bell Phone,
barked "Half Hour" and then put the phone back down and turned to me to
resume the conversation.
As he began to speak, the Bell phone rang again. Frank looked up, looked at
the phone, looked at me and said "Uh OH!"
Frank turned and picked up the phone, "CD" he said. He listened.
I would not say he was scared but maybe concerned would be the right word.
"Stay right in that chair and don't say anything" Frank ordered.
Obviously the phone call was way out of the ordinary. As I looked up at the
clock I realized it was just a little after 3.
A moment later the door opened.
I recognized the man immediately. I am pretty sure he recognized me. We did
"Frank" the man began. He was a thin guy with a white shirt and he was the
Trainmaster (for reasons that have been discussed all over these lists, his
name is ommitted).
Frank and the Trainmaster had a chat and nothing they said was memorable
enough for me to remember except his parting remark.
"Frank we are not supposed to have unauthorized personel in the tower."
The trainmaster left and frank asked that I stay put for a few minutes.
He may have said something on the order of "Don't worry about it"
Frank was near the top of the list and while he was not about to invite
trouble, once you reached a certain point on the list, if the company wanted
to get you, you simply retired. I would say this was a prevalent attitude on
the railroad about this time.
And so there is another edition of From the Archives.........what's that ?
you want to know about what? Oh of course I will explain that....
Every day the Bell phone would ring between 3:15 and 3:30. It was the
station agent at Harmon wanting to know how late Amtrak Train 74 would be.
This train was habitually late. Hence without asking the Dispatcher, Frank
developed the response "Half Hour".
One day Frank and I were sitting there and the phone rang. At the same time
the bell went off.
(The Bell or "On The Bell" means that there is a train approaching. At CD
there was a bell that would ring once when a train entered the circuit on
either the north or south end of the interlocking limits. (Did I get that
more or less correct Gordon) It sounded like the bell used in a boxing ring)
"Whats that" Frank asked me?
He got up to look at the board and there was indeed something coming south
past Oscawana Station a few miles to the north. It was 74 running early.
"Damn" Frank said.
But since the route was already lined there was nothing to do. My
recollection though is that Frank did pick up the phone and call the Harmon
Ticket Agent to let him know 74 would be "On Time"
Whether you are testing, dispatching, collecting tickets or kickin em in the
yard I hope you all enjoy this series. I do not work with deadlines and
this will be a more or less come as you please set or rememberances, stories
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