Two Room house I lived in as a boy at the side of the RR tracks.  It had a garage and a chicken coop.

It was 1929 or 30---3 miles north of Sheridan, Wyoming. On a county road that ran alongside the CB&Q railroad tracks, a small two-room house was the first home I remember. It was on the "right" side of the railroad tracks because of the many special memories that remain.

A Special Kind of Man

The rushing steam locomotives were so noisy and so big that they seemed to me to fill the sky when you were standing near the tracks and the engine and cars thundered by. My brother and I stood there so many times that I came to know a special kind of man standing in the open doorway of the mail car that was part of the afternoon passenger train. He was special because he always waved to us as the train went by. But one Saturday afternoon, something different happened. He waved and threw a package towards us! We rushed to find the package---it was the Sunday edition of the Denver Post and the funny papers. It became a Saturday afternoon ritual and continued until we moved away. I never was able to thank that special man but I remember what he did for us on those many Saturday afternoons.

Grass Fires

The 1930's---The steam locomotive---pulling a long line of freight cars, burned coal---clouds of black smoke and burning embers spewing from their stacks. The embers would start grass fires (no trees there). It had a favorite place to start these fires---in the rising hills behind the Star Coal Mine. Two or three times these fires had to be put out the hard way---all of the miners, employees and myself, would use wet potato sacks and shovels. Sometimes the fires would burn many hundreds of acres before being put out . . .
A Deafening Roar

The 30's---a steam driven freight train was an experience of sight and sound that was and is unequalled!! It began with the far-off sound of the steam whistle sounding for each approaching crossing---then a faint vibration (you could lay down with your ear on the track and hear the train long before hearing anything else)---increasing in volume as the trains approached. To a small boy standing in the right of way, it was the beginning of a frightening thrill that lasted a lifetime. The roaring sound became so loud. Looking up, the train as it went by, was the biggest thing in the world. It was more noise than you could stand and a blast of wind that pushed you backwards. Then the sound would begin to lessen and it became just a string of freight cars going by---with the clacking of wheels as they crossed the joints---then the caboose with the noise already receding into the past . . .

The Burlington Zephyr Streamliner

1934 or 35---One day, a new sound, like a deep-toned truck air horn---getting louder and closer---and then a beautiful, bright, shiny train on the tracks. It was there and then it was gone. I later found out that this was the Burlington Zephyr---a streamlined, stainless steel-skinned, diesel-electric powered passenger train. It made a record run from Denver to Chicago in 1934, with speeds up to 114 MPH. It even looked fast! This train is now called the Burlington Pioneer.

My First Train Ride

The letter in the Post Office box arrived Saturday, February 6, 1943---YOU ARE ORDERED to report for active duty at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri; to arrive no later than 8 Feb 1943. I boarded a Burlington passenger train on Sunday, 7 Feb and arrived into the Army Air Corps Monday, 8 Feb 1943. The first train ride---but not the last !!! I wrote about the enlistment details in the story "Why so long?"


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