- Somebody asked me a question and I thought I would share the response with you all. If you don't like the begining hit the delete key.
Okay, here is the story.......
Once upon a time, about 1977 to be precise, the railroads were abandoning facilities left and right. Yards were being consolidated and buildings that were deemed surplus were reduced to rubble. I guess in a sense, I was lucky to be around. As the railroads abondonded facilites, whatever was left in and around these facilities was fair game for vandals and vagrants alike.
Enter one 17 year old with wheels. I was in and out of many of these yards and car knockers shacks, fighting poison ivy and bees for the most part. Occassionally I encountered a drunk and once, a group of thugs who might just as well have beat me as let me live. good thing I am fleet of foot........
Anyway I am traveling south on Interstate 687 in New York when I notice a Jade Green (ala NYC) freight house with yellow signs all over it. After stopping and getting way off the highway I walk over and realize that the yellow signs are condemnation notices.
I feel this is an opportunity as someone has already peeled back the plywood door to allow me entrance to the building. The New York Central frieght station was built to the standard plan and oriented north-south so that the agent's office was the northern most part of the building. Inside the freight station itself the space was open floor to rafters but on the north side the agent's office was walled in wainscoating with a ten foot ceiling.
When viewed from the Warehouse end of the building there was nothing remarkable about the agent's office. It was a bright sunny day outside but very dark inside so it took a while before I realized that the building was completely empty.
Feeling like I had missed out I was about to leave when I suddenly noticed boards nailed to the framing on the side of the freight agent's office. I quickly climbed up peering over the top of the rafters for a confrontation with something or someone that was not to come. And what do you think I saw? NOTHING!
None-the-less I assumed that the ladder was there for a reason and I walked out straddling the rafters. In the semi-darkness it was hard to make out anything. I used the chimmney to steady myself, being right about in the middle of the freight office ceiling. I looked down and there, perched upon the rafters, on the north side of the chimmney were a collection of old books. It turned out I had stumbled upon the train register for 1899 along with the register of passenger ticket sales and record of baggage received.
Five or six years later, in my hometown of Ossining New York, I had a phone message to call a woman who was with the local newspaper. She had gotten my name from the local historical society and wanted to know what I thought might be in the safe.
"What safe" I asked.
"Well the local lumber yard is going to donate the freight station and land to the town, and they are going to crack open the safe", she noted.
"Well there could be all kinds of stuff in there but I doubt there is anything like money", was my reply.
My interest was peaked
I went down to Ossining Sash & Door and introduced myself to the owners. Turns out they knew my parents. I asked permission to go into the freight station before it was turned over to the Town and "Have a look around".....
They handed me the keys.
I got to the freight station and opened the padlock. It was exactly like the Goldens Bridge Freight Station laid out to the New York Central Standard plan !
I looked immediately for the ladder on the agent's office wall. It was in the same place as in the Golden's Bridge Freight station.
This time I was equipped with a flashlight. I climbed the ladder.
I walked out on the rafters, and there (to use a line from Arlo Guthrie) on the other side, right in the middle of the other side, away from everything else on the other side, right on the north side of the chimmney JUST LIKE AT GOLDENS BRIDGE ! There was a pile of paperwork and ledgers. There were letters from Sing Sing prison, telegraph messages, a frieght register, ticket stubs and all kinds of groovey stuff..............
And that is my contribution to your knowledge of freight station agents habits....
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