Transcript of Interview with Herb Adams 1/11/98

conducted by
John Rodgers, President of WRJ Railroad Museum
and
Macy Lawrence VP of WRJ RR Museum


It is Sunday, January 11, 1998. We are in Wilder, Vermont at the home of Herb Adams. Herb is an active member of the 494 Restoration  Committee as well as an active member in the White River Junction  Chapter of the NRHS. In the years between World War II and the  Korean conflict, Herb worked for the B&M as a yard man in the White River Junction railroad yard. As an active reservist he was called back during the Korean War. Because of his railroad  experience, he was assigned to run locomotives for the Army in Korea.

Interviewer: Have you always lived in Wilder?

HA: Just about, just about, since, I've been married, I've lived in other places in Sharon, North Hartland and around different  places.

I: And you were telling me earlier that you were in Germany during  the War or after the war.

HA: Yep Yep Yep I spent 3.5 years over there, between going in  here and going over there. I stayed over there six months longer,  signed up for an extra 6 months and stayed in the Occupation for a while. Got my hat, my name drawed out of hat and went down for  a week in Nice, France.

I: How was that?

HA: Lovely. (Laughs)

I: Did you get involved with railroading when you came back from...?

HA: Ya, I came back in 1946 and I was talking with Larry White,  Roland White not Larry, Larry's his brother, Larry lives over in West Lebanon, Roland lives up here and I told him that I had wrote a letter to Pittsburgh-Mass to get a job on the B&M. Ah, he says hell don't do that, go on over and see Duffy. Duffy was  the yardmaster over in the yard and I went over and talked with  him and in 15 minutes I had a job. They told me there wasn't any  jobs on the Pittsburgh Division when they answered my letter.

I: What kind of a job?

HA: Yard, brakeman

I: They started you out as a yard brakeman, now what does that do?

HA: Well, you work the switches and switch the cars, I mean you don't run the switches, you work on the switches, working with the cars separating them out doing this that and the other thing.  We made up a train one night, I was down there and my brother was home from the Air Force and about 50 below zero. I don't remember what year it was. It was in the '40's there, '47, '48 somewhere  right along in there and colder than hell. The thermometer on  the car knocker's shack said 55 below zero. You could take one of those switches and you couldn't haul 10 cars cause it would  come in and stop and 20 minutes, 15-20 minutes those axles would  be frozen, it was so goddam cold.

I: These were 0-4-0's or 0-6-0's or what...

HA: No by then we had the little 12's

I: 1200 horse power

HA: Yep. No we could normally, under normal circumstances, we could pull 25 cars, then the loop the track that was on the further side, it came down from Nutt Street and then went back up. It  wasn't a very heavy grade but it was a slight grade. That didn't  help when it got cold like that. We had 17 tracks and if you weren't really on the ball you could corner a few of them. No by the time I was there that was just feed store and the other end of the yard way down was a tank yard for I can't remember the oil company that was in there. We had a couple other things.

I: You always worked in the yard?

HA: Yep. Oh, I'd go out on the main line. I've been to Berlin.  I been out on helpers through to Canaan, Summit. I went down to  Claremont and worked on the Claremont local. That was fun. Interchange  with the street railway. Those guys thought a lot of their electric engines. They had their whistles well polished and everything was nice and clean on those engines. Spoke wheels.

I: Those are the little peanut whistles they call 'em, right.  Just a single tube.

HA: Yeah, they were just a little one tube. They used air on them of course.

I: Did any of their engines have batteries so they could operate without...

HA: That I don't know, I mean we didn't have their engines. We  had a ________ we went out through, past Newport before we got  all done. And one of the last ones to have flapped the cars in  the middle of Newport right on Main Street. And that was surprising  to me that they didn't have some sort of a light arrangement to where you could pull up there and throw the switch and then go  across the crossing, but no you had to go out there and stop the  traffic and get everything all stopped before they pull across.  And then they'd pull across and when the engine came by you seeing's as how you were the head end man, you grabbed the handle and got on.

I: Now you worked on the Army railroad in the second war also?

HA: Yes, when I went in, I had stayed in the reserves, so they called me in and they shipped me down to Camp Campbell, Kentucky.  And I landed there and of course they wanted to know what I had  been doing. Well, I'd been on the railroad here and bingo, I got  the number of the brakeman and I went FAST from there over, cause they were very short of people that knew anything at all about railroad. The first trip I made, I was kind of leery of the gang  that was there so I picked out a guy and asked him where the hell he was from. I can't remember his first name but his last name  was Roter and he was an engineer for the B&O and he worked passenger  trains west out of Washington, D.C. And we went together and we went up from Pusson (sp?) up through to Tego (sp?). I've forgotten  how long it took us but batteries and so forth and so on, they didn't have it. And coming south we had a full train and we hit one station and the fireman could speak perfect English and he came to me and said 'Hey we got about 6 inches of water left. Unless we get out of here next, we ain't going to make it to the next  station. The next station's got a water plug but there isn't one here.' So I went to the Dispatcher and I had the guy in the office  get me the GI Dispatcher and I said I'm train such and such, I can't remember the number, out of Tego and we're headed for Pusson.  Now we need water. What do you need water for? I started in on  a recitation of how you built up a nice fire in the boiler you  know and you got water in there and you go coal and you kept that  thing going and when you got up enough steam... and just about  then somebody interrupted me--What's your name? And I told him.  Well, he said, I tell you what, you get your fanny back on your  train because you're going to be out of there damn shortly. Down  we went and got our water and I was, of course, being an experienced  railroad man, I kind of looked the train over a little bit to  see if there was anything that would give us any problems. And  this guy come along and said you're wanted on the phone. I am?  Yeah, you're Adams, aren't you? Yeah, OK. So I went in. It was  the Major and he was the guy who interrupted us and sent me on  our way. So he asked me where I got my railroad experience and  stuff such as that, you know. Got all done and I said by the way,  where did you get your railroad experience? Oh, he says, I was  a trainmaster on the Great Northern. Got in, so we got all the  way down, oh I don't know, yeah I probably got about three hours  sleep. They woke me up and said you're being transferred. I went  to the yard. I went to the yard and I tried to get 'em to do little  things that would save time. Now why should anybody come along  to a box car, determine it's empty and write out empty? Why not  just put MT? Means the same thing, sounds the same. You couldn't  get them, that's just one example, but I tried, you couldn't get  them to make even that little change. Well, no you wouldn't save  yourself only about a half a minute, but if you had 60 cars you'd  save yourself 15-20 minutes, but you couldn't get it through their  damned head and these guys were just that. The dispatcher, they  wanted to know what I needed water for and then a radio announcer.  That's the kind of personnel they had to have because they didn't  have anybody that was experienced to speak of. And when I got  run over, the Major that was in charge of the area down there  came in and said well you're going to beat yourself to Tokyo.  I said what do you mean beat myself to Tokyo? He said well, in  Korea we cannot promote a reservist but he says we can promote  him in Japan, so we were going to transfer you to Japan, give  you a promotion and then bring you back again.

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I: Can you back up a little bit and tell us about how you got  run over or ...?

HA: Well, I just slipped, went down and when I slipped I tried  to throw myself away from the car cause I was right next to a  bunch of cars moving and when I did my leg just went phew down  underneath and that was it. I lost just the foot but they had  to cut it off up to the knee, 6 inches below the knee.

I: So you had an accident in Korea and basically they sent you  back to Japan?

HA: Well, they send me to Japan, that's the first jump to going  back to the States cause they wasn't going to keep me. That's  what it amounted to. Here's a cute one. This doesn't have anything  to do with the railroad or anything else but it's still a cute  one. We took off from Tokyo, landed at Midway for lunch. We never  felt that plane hit the runway it was so smooth. He got in there  just beautiful. And I was up, I think the third bunk up right  up next to the cabin. The pilot came out and I reached out and  tapped him on the shoulder and I said Goddam good landing, captain,  goddam nice one. And a lot of the other guys picked it up too,  they noticed how smooth it was. He turned around at the door before  he went out. Wait till I get you bastards to Hawaii. How'd you  like that one. So I stayed a week in Hawaii and then they flew  me to Tripler (sp?) General in California and then f rom there  to Walter Reed down in Washington. With the reserve time and my  army time, when I came out, I got a retirement discharge. As far  as the Army's concerned but I hadn't been retired because I went  back and when I got discharged and I talked to the doctors and  the doctors said well, I told 'em what I'd be doing, I'd be switch  tender. Well, he said why don't you hold off for a while. So I  said well you'd better give me a letter so I can give it to them  cause I've got just one year from the time of discharge to get  back there and I don't want to spoil it up because I will want  to go back to work for 'em. So they gave me the letter and I went  down and presented it to 'em and I said I don't know when I'll  be, when they say OK I'll be back so when they said OK I went  back.

I: Can you tell us about your experiences at White River Junction?

HA: Well, it was rather routine sort of stuff. I was all the way  up to _______ conductor. There was John O'Neal here in White River.  He and I were the top ones passing the flagman's exam that had  ever passed it. We had to go down to Concord, New Hampshire, down  to the examiner's office down there to take it but he beat me  by a little. And I was right behind him and we had the top scores  of anybody who passed the flagging exam between the two of us.  They'd call me to go to Berlin. I'd go up. If I was working the  spare board for the yard and they needed somebody on the main  line, they'd more or less sometimes, they didn't have to call  you from the yard by seniority, they could call the guy that they  figured would be willing to go and I went to Berlin up on the  freights a couple of times and I went in the baggage car on 4301,  4308 that was the morning passenger train to Berlin and back.  Well, it was more the people than anything else. Cause White River  Junction had the strangest set up that I've ever seen and anybody  else that I've talked with says the same thing. Of course the  yard was a joint venture between the CV and the B&M. If you went  down to White River down to the lower yard down to the bull pen  we'll start. The day switcher down there had a CV engine crew  and a B&M ground crew. You come to the second shift you had a  B&M engine crew and a CV ground crew. At night you had B&M all  the way through. You went up to Nutt Street and you had three  switches up there but they were all B&M there weren't any mixture  on those. Up to the CV yard, first shift switcher was all CV,  the second shift was the B&M and CV ground crew mixed plus the  B&M engineer and fireman and then you had an extra switcher around  for passengers after 11 o'clock and the night switcher up in the  yard was all CV and you had an extra one around the station for  the passenger trains cause that's when the bulk of your passenger  trains went through and they was needed for switching. Probably  shouldn't use his name so I guess I won't but they had a conductor  on that night switcher they used to call him the platform conductor.  He never got off the platform; his two brakemen were the only  ones that went down and done anything. He got nicknamed the platform  conductor.

I: He's still around in other words.

HA: Oh, he lives up north of town. His father was the day switch  tender at Nutt Street, not Nutt street at the diamond. We had  Angelo Deparma down at Nutt Street. He had gone down between two  box cars, he was up on top, something happened, lost his balance  and went down between two of the box cars and lost, can't remember  if it is was the left or right arm, but he lost one of his arms  up above the elbow. And he told me that the guy that looked the  accident over, came back to him and said boy you made a damn good  attempt to stop yourself 'fore you got to the bottom. He left  fingernail marks all the way down the end of that car and they  were plain from the way he told me. Of course you get desperate  when you are in a situation like that.

I: So tell us about your trip to Berlin, you were telling us over  at the Model Railroad Club once about that.

HA: Well, you'll have to give me a jog on that

I: About your, what 30 minutes from Wells River or something,  you said it never come down so fast.

HA: Oh yeah yeah yeah we picked up on the Wells River lower yard  that's where the CP'd come down and they'd set off and it was  a turn job. They come down and they'd set off the stuff going  to Berlin then they'd take the stuff over into Woodsville they  needed to do there and they'd pick up the cars that the other  freights had brought up and they'd go back to Newport. And we  backed in there, now this wasn't the Berlin job that I had this  on, this was a turn job that we'd gone up and deposited our cars  and now were headed back with a turn job. We met the CP turn job  there and had a green mad on the head end and I wasn't a regular  main line man but I was the only one between the two of us that  had flagging credentials so I had to be the flagman. Of course,  he backed in and coupled up and left the buggy on the main line  and he headed out, pulled out on the main line, backed onto the  buggy and I ______ the hitch, turned the angle cocks and everything  for the air and I didn't hear anything. And he started, I gave  him a signal, he started go along and all the cars that we'd left  on the main line, every brake was dragging but those that CP had  left on the siding, they weren't. Now how the hell they'd lost  all their air in their cylinders, I don't know. But I gave him  a big wash out and he stopped and I walked down and I said Now  hey Cypher. This was Cypher Goodwin and he was a speed demon and  he says what's the matter and I says well you haven't got any  air on that train back there. Now experienced engineer he couldn't  look at his gauge and have told that even before he started? And  I said now I'm going to cut it in and I want you to give me the  right kind of speed so I can make ___buggy. It's OK. So away he  went and I ___ the buggy and when I got on the buggy I pulled  my watch out and looked at it. It's 40 miles-40 minutes later  we were going across the diamonds and you were only supposed have  been 45. There was Eva Caldwell (sp?), he lived up in Hartford.  He went north with a helper and he went all the way to Woodsville  with it, Wells River I should say. Got it turned headed back and  this was a night so Wells River was where he had to pick up his  orders to go South. He didn't have a flagman or anything, just  he and the fireman, just an engine that's all there was. And he  went and got his orders and the dispatcher wanted to know if he  could beat going to White River ahead of 79. And he replied, well  if you give me orders, I'll do it. OK. He got out on the main  line and he went in ahead of 79. He pulled into White River ahead  of time and of course he had to sign off. Well, he never ran an  engine from that day forward. He was restricted to being a fireman.  (Laughter). He'd do what the dispatcher more or less wanted him  to do.

I: He had a 19?? order, didn't he, signed and sealed and all that?

HA: No he didn't have an order. They wouldn't give him an order  to get in there ahead of 79.

I: Oh they just asked him if he could do it and let him go.. And  then racked him up doing it.

HA: That's what he said. They give me an order of that and he  went anyway.

I: They were rather unforgiving on a lot of things. They wanted  you to do things but then...

HA: Oh yeah, on a lot of that stuff. All he did was get the firing  job on the second shift switcher up in the CV yard and Christ,  take him home, take the switcher down and leave it side the station  and (laugh) he didn't have to travel anywhere. Old Cy Goodwin  he was on the day switcher, he was a real character. And he like  to tip the bottle quite a little bit and long about 1:30, 2:00  o'clock, he'd get the head brakeman to go over to the liquor store.  That's when it was opposite Miller's Auto. Get him a bottle and  he headed home. And he hadn't opened it one day and he went off  the road up by Seminary Hill School, cops came and they found  the bottle. They took the bottle and away they went and they left  him a ticket. He went charging over to the station a little bit  later that day, it kind of dawned on him, he wanted his bottle  of booze. You can't have it that's evidence you were drinking.  You get that goddam bottle out here. They got it out and set it  on the counter. Goddam seal wasn't broken. They couldn't use it  for evidence. They had to give it back to him. (Laughs). He wasn't  dumb by any means. When it dawned on him, he went right after  em. So they didn't have that for evidence or anything like that  to use in court. He came out, I don't know, I never could figure  out just how he had enough room to do it, but he must have, cause  he always worked that afternoon switcher and they always went  up by where the court house is to where he parked the car and  he was pretty well, he'd been nipping and he came out and he went  off. Do you remember the old bridge that was there by the fire  station?

I: The one that washed out?

HA: Yeah, The one that had the ramps up the side and then went  over. He went up one side and tipped that car right in the middle  of the road. How in hell he done it I don't know but he done it.

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I: Now were you working over there when they stole 494 out of  the West Lebanon round house?

HA: Oh, it was bouncing around. Yeah. When they wanted to move  it up to the where the town office is there, of course they brought  it down from the CV yard down the CV side of the station and up  the B&M side you might say. George Reeves, the big deal boy, was  the yard master at that time and so I said to George, I was going  home at 8 o'clock, I said you need any help? I'd just like to  help you on that if you... Nope, we got plenty of help. So they  took it up and I don't know what the hell is up there now but  it's in behind the garage there. You went up and there was a Mobil  oil plant up in there and they had about half a dozen big tanks.  And they started and shoo fly type of thing there they just kept  moving it ahead down across and when they got down to the under  pass, they built a ramp right over the track and then they put  it over there. That's how they done that. But I didn't get in  on that.

I: What kind of condition was it in at that point?

HA: Well, when they had it up at the CV yard, I've talked with  a guy by the name of John Quincy Adams, he lives out in Canaan,  he was working the CV round house at the time and he said it was  in pretty decent shape. Well, of course, they hadn't never run  it in the time the put it through the shop. 1938? They put it  through the shop, they hadn't run it. So she was in good shape  naturally. She's really not in all that bad shape except the damn  trucks underneath the tender and that's the first damn thing that  they should have been pushing to do in my idea. When they started  painting it, I didn't think it really was in that much need of  a paint job, but the thing should have been what was needed and  that trucks under the tender's what's needed. They've got the  material but they haven't got no way of moving that caboose back  so they can pull that tender a little bit away from the ... it's  got to happen. That's the way they're going to have to do it and  then they're going to have to get a jack on each corner and jack  it up and so they can run those trucks out so they can get them  the hell out from underneath there so they can work on em.

I: Now you didn't get down to Concord very much, you

HA: No I never went through to Concord. No I've worked the Canaan  local a few times and stuff like that, but I never went all the  way through to Concord.

I: Were you out to Canaan when they had that, what was it, the  guy through the switch on a passenger train

HA: Well, this I hold as really the dispatcher's fault. Because  the southbound always met right there at Canaan and they held  the main line, the southbound did. So when the southbound landed  there, the brakeman or the baggage man, we probably should call  him that, went up and set the switch for the northbound to go  in the siding. So the guy for some reason the northbound didn't  seem to have an inkling of what in the hell he was doing. He came  in there pretty goddam fast when he came in. The baggage man set  the switch on the south end cause he'd read the order, let em  in to the siding on the south bound train. Well, he got busy in  the baggage car because that's what he would normally do, he'd  set that switch and let em where they go up the main line, so  he just got back on and got busy there in the baggage car working  and he almost time for that train to get there and they were late,  that's why it was set up that way, so it give the southbound a  better chance. So all of a sudden it dawned on him that he hadn't  set that switch for that train to come in. So, it never even dawned  on him going out there and setting that switch where he was. He  just had it in his mind that he had to set that switch. So he  went out there and he set it and they came. The engineer see it  coming that it was on the southbound and I talked with him afterwards  and he jumped up and started back, they hit, threw him out there  in the alley way in the diesel pulled both shoes off em. He lost  both shoes. (Laughs) They hauled the brakeman in but I don't think  they should have. It wasn't malicious or anything, it was just  a plain mistake. It's just the same as Newbury. That was human  error. You got two spots up there that are just about alike. You  got an old farm type bridge the wooden ones, you know, and just  beyond that is a switch for a siding. You go down the road closer  to Newbury and there's another one. Well, the thing of it was  he was supposed to have gone in the first siding. He may have  been distracted. He didn't see it so he went right by that one  and they met in between the two sidings.

I: What year was this?

HA: '48

I: And what was the result of that meeting?

HA: Well, it didn't matter to much on that because the engineer  got killed. The first thing he wanted to know, he was still awake  when somebody come along. What'd I do run into the Berlin job?  Nope, you ran into 78.

I: I understand that was a pretty brand new engineer, that fellow,  one of em was

HA: One of em

I: ____ from over in Wentworth?

HA: Yeah yeah The older engineer had already had a flop or wreck  like that, but it was a situation where he missed seeing the first  siding where he was supposed to have been. And went by that, That  was steam 3600s, P2s

I: That was a foggy morning?

HA: I don't know, I don't remember whether it was or not. It probably  was because he also misted the landmarks, probably was.

I: It pretty well demolished both of those locomotives.

HA: Yeah, I got some pictures somewhere.

I: The one out in Mascoma Lake, were you involved in cleaning  that up?

HA: No, no but I got some Christmas presents out of it.

I: Christmas presents?

HA: Yeah, the brought some of the cars there and they put them  in the tracks between the diamonds and the White River Bridge  over on that north Y there are some side tracks in there. They  put them in there. Guys got into em. One of the carloads that  was full of these games, Monopoly and so forth (Laughs). Well,  they had one just south of Fairlee. My brother-on-law was working  in a filling station up there to Fairlee and he told me and just  about everybody else in Fairlee they didn't buy any flour for  about two years (laughs).

I: Now this is the one that the tank car burned up there, mid-50's  wasn't it?

HA: Yeah yeah the engineer had been a fireman for a friend of  mine, Mernard Barber off the CP. Mernard was quite a character,  he was a gun collector and I was collecting guns at the time,  so we'd go down to this guy down in Claremont, I'd pick him up  and he'd come in on the CP freight, and I'd pick him up and we'd  go down to Claremont. I walked into the bunk house, the B&M bunkhouse  down there in White River, West Lebanon there one day and I says  Hi Mernard and he says Hey I want to tell you some thing. What's  that. Well, he says you know Willy done one hell of a big job  today. Willy was standing there looking at him. He did? Yeah,  Mernard said. He really did. It's really a hell of a job that  he done today. Willy kept looking at him and all of a sudden Willy  says, if I did such a goddam wonderful big job what the hell was  it, Well goddam it you took a shower, look at the square inches  of skin you had to wash. Willy weighed pretty near 300 pounds.  There was a lot of characters like that.

I: The bunkhouse in West Lebanon, was that used only by B&M or  CV

HA: Well anybody that was coming in and leaving their engine at  the B&M yard. The brakemen as far as off the trains generally  went to the Gates, that was well where the Gates Opera House up  there in that area there was a Gates Hotel up there then.

I: So the last time that bunkhouse was full, well that's quite  a big building

HA: That was a good sized building yeah year

I: That must have been probably WWII was the last time it was  really used to its capacity.

HA: Yeah yeah yeah

I: Is that the one that burned up there?

HA: Yeah somebody set that cause there was no electricity and  no heat in it so it had no other way of catching fire.

I: There was a bunch of wooden boxes and stuff that was piled  up in it and torched, that's what set it off.

HA: Yeah somebody doesn't want to make a park out of that. It'd  be a good area for a park down in there.

I: Yes that's an interesting thing. A fellow by the name of Leonard  Lucas came over to talk to us in West Lebanon about that, cause  he said the City should have right of first refusal on that entire  property. There's 22.5 acres in there and on a Monday evening  at 8 o'clock he told us nothing would happen to any of the buildings  or any of the facilities in West Lebanon yard until the Guilford  offered it to the City one way or the other either free or for  so many dollars. And as of Wednesday morning of that same week,  Mr. Jancey(sp?) had cut up the turntable and punched a hole through  the boiler room and taken out the boilers in the steam room down  there.

HA: I see where they're negotiating for that stretch there to  Lebanon.

I: According to Bill Brigham that's pretty near in the bag, I  don't know.

HA: Yeah, it might be but the funny part about it ya know was  when they wanted to see about putting gravel train up there, Guilford  told them that bridge wouldn't hold, wouldn't hold the locomotive.  The next goddam thing they knew, Guilford was putting the three  units of the diesel across it. (laughs) When they built that bridge  in , I don't know if it was 1927 or 1936 flood, they parked engines  on both tracks on that bridge right out there during the flood  just so it would hold it right down.

I: It would have been a lot more expensive to replace if the water  had taken it out, though, with all the locomotives on it.

HA: Oh, well, the characters. A fellow by the name of Ross lives  up to Newbury. He used to work down here in the yard and at the  time they closed Woodsville, they transferred just about all the  brakemen down here and Hod Hill (sp?) and Ross lives in Hod Hills  house that he used to live in Newbury. Hod was a character and  they had a fireman at the time, Jimmy Chalmers, he became an engineer  afterwards and Jimmy was one that like to wander. So they parked  their engine that day and didn't have anything to do and were  waiting for something to do so Hod came along and looked at it,  grabbed the shovel and he started pouring the coal right into  the furnace. He filled that right up and mounded it right in right  up over the door. Jimmy came back and, of course, the fire wasn't  doing too well so the steam was down just a little bit. Jimmy  looked at that, grabbed a shovel got a shovelful, hit that automatic  door opener and he put that coal all over the cab. It wasn't going  to go anywhere (laughs) and he came along after the shift is pretty  near done and he patted Hod on the shoulder and says thank you  Hod. What the hay you thanking me for? Well, he says all I had  to do was run that fire for the rest of the shift, just take the  poker and poke the coal down. (laughs) But the best one and I  never found out who done it. Somebody must have had two boxes  of torpedoes at least. They started at Nutt Street and I don't  know how close together they put em. They came right up around  the south Y and they were up all the way up to where the gravel  company is. And one of the goddam freights, you ought to have  heard the racket that day. Duffy who was the yardmaster lived  in like a baggage car but it'd been made over and fixed up inside  so they had a bedroom, and living room and a kitchen and of course  it took him right out of bed at night time. But you can imagine  from Nutt Street all the way up around there, that son of a bitch.  The engineer never let up on the throttle, in fact I think he  opened it up a little wider just to go on around.

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I: That's over a mile around through there.

HA: All together yeah it'd be close to a mile yeah. The one I  like the best, of course the mixture of the crew down on the second  shift in the bull pen CV to B&M engine, CV ground crew. Frank  Spaulding lived over on center to Town Road on the further end  and Bill Plummer was the engineer and he lived up just above opposite  the Seminary Hill School and they anytime Frank would start something,  Bill would take the other side. Bill was a real sharp old boy.  Finally, they were arguing along one day and Spaulding turned  around and what the heck you trying to do make a fool out a me?  Bill says perish the thought. Nature beat me to it. (laughs)

I: The CV round house was used up to the last. At what point did

HA: Oh, I can't really say on that when they quit using it. They  had some CV in it right along even though the engine part was  rented out to somebody else. They had their offices there. CV  operator was there and so forth.

I: What about on the New Hampshire side, Westborough, when's the  last time you know that was actually used?

HA: Oh, I really don't have any recollections on that?

I: Did you work with John Fielding?

HA: Yep yep yep, not much because John was main line, I was yard.

I: Jessie Truman?

HA: Oh yeah.

I: You sure like to rub against that, don't your?

HA: Yeah worked with his son over in Split Ball too. There was  one guy, you know where the T&R out beyond Hartford, he's got  the falls coming down behind it, Bernham, he lived there and he  had an awful family and they kept telling him, we're going to  have to stop that bootlegger from whistling. The bootlegger was  a Washingtonian and Montrealer. Why? Well, he says every time  you get woke up by that whistle you make another baby (laughs)  Somebody thought that up and they pulled it on him and it stuck.  They said every time that bootlegger whistled up through there  Wayne made another baby.

I: Did they have a lot of problems with whiskey being run down?

HA: Well, the pullman porter that came in on the night pullman,  the bootlegger dropped one there at White River, the rear pullman  and you'd see him during the day, he'd go over to the liquor store  and he'd come back with box after box. Some days it was more than  other days. That's what he was doing. He was taking liquor back  to New York with him. And that's where the Washingtonian and the  Montrealer got its name because it would come down and it would  be loaded with whiskey during the prohibition. But they could  buy booze up here in Vermont cheaper than they could down there  in New York. That's how he got it.

I: Nobody ever bothered to look in the train to see if there was  any...?

NA: Well, they didn't bother too much because it was mainly the  pullman porters and stuff lie that and if they wanted to do that  they'd had to open everybody's luggage because they would just  take a few bottles. It wasn't that it was a mass bootlegging situation.  No it was maybe 50% of the people on the train would have one  or two, maybe three bottles and it was just that you couldn't  buy it in the United States at the time but you could in Canada  and bring it down so it was illegal in that sense but still not  that bad. They didn't push it because it wasn't organized in that  sense.. We had a number of em around here that were organized.  Back in the late 30's I was showed a bootleggers car that had  all kinds of compartments in it (laughs) that you couldn't spot  unless you knew where to look.

I: Was there any big to do when the bicentennial train came through?

NA: You want to see a flyer on that?

I: Yeah

NA: There's one right behind you. You see those CV books, straight  in it's in among those, no keep going to the bigger ones, the  big ones John. God I'm looking at it.

I: Through the Woods to Winnepesaukee.

NA: Pull that one right there.

I: This one?

NA: No that's not it.

I: There's this one here that says Narrow Gauge.

NA: Well, I was just looking at it. Oh it's in back, no where  the hell did I. Christ, I was just looking at it before you guys  came.

I: A ha

NA: There you go.

I: That's interesting. We the people of the states of New Hampshire,  Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut,  New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia,  North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia do ordain and declare  and establish the following constitution for the government of  ourselves and our posterity. That's what that says. Now this came  through with what was it nickel plates Berkshire on the front  end or was it the 484 or 614 of B&O?

NA: Well, it was the one that burned up

I: The one that burned up

NA: I don't remember exactly but I know it wasn't the one they  had planned on. They had planned on one of the daylights from  out in California but there were some curves on the B&M where  she went around the curves the side, the clearance wouldn't have  been there, they would have scraped the buildings.

I: A steam locomotive

NA:: Yeah

I: How do you burn up a steam locomotive?

NA:: Wooden cab (laughs)

I: Plus the fact that if you're out of water that fire does a  pretty good job on the boiler plate too.

NA: Yes.

I: When everything gets to be cherry red and it's all in together  and it goes caboom, you could figure it's burned up.

I: Chuck was talking about some locomotive that was up here, oh  he said there was one up here in the Connecticut River, north  of the dam?

NA: Yeah there's somewhere up there, I don't know where it is,  I've been told. It's been up there a long time.

I: Would have that have been just a two foot one used to build  the dam or was that a diesel?

NA: No no no there wasn't any two footers here to build the dam  not unless they were there to build the paper mill. They had those  two footers up to the Fifteen Mile Falls, they used em up there,  but they didn't use em down here. No this was a wreck and I have  no idea where the location is. I've never found anybody who could  tell me where the location was.

I: Didn't you tell us that you went on the, what was it a plow  extra over to Plymouth and back around?

NA: (laughs) Yeah that's right. I got called to go on the Plymouth  local right up through Woodsville, down through Plymouth, New  Hampshire. Put up over night. We went in there, of course, went  up town and had some supper in a restaurant. Went to the movies,  I don't remember the movie, but came back out and they, the guy  that was with me was Wingate. He used to live in the north end  of Wilder but he lived over in Hartford at the tail end of it  and he had, that was his permanent job, so he had a place up in  the boarding house. So he took me up and they had a bed so we  went to bed. We came down the next morning. We went to bed about  10 o'clock. There wasn't a damn cloud in the sky. Got up the next  morning and there was over 8 inches of snow in Plymouth. So we  went to the restaurant and got some, got sandwiches and got some  breakfast and we headed down by the freight house and the guy  in the freight house, Hey you guys have been canceled. You're  going to Concord to run a snow plow. I though Oh shit (laughs).  So I didn't have, we didn't have anything left so in the buggy,  I didn't anyways so we just went back up to the station and the  buggy was picked up and brought up to Woodsville and then back  down to White River but we went, got on one of those gas electrics  and the conductor was already there. I walked in, of course, I  hadn't been here long enough to have a pass of my own, you had  to have a year in before they'd give you a pass. And I told the  conductor, I says, hey I don't want to pay for this trip so you'll  have to vouch for me (laughs). He kind of laughed, a don't worry  about it. So we went down through to Concord and honest to God  nobody in Concord had done anything about cleaning the switches  out so we could get the snow plow. We got the engine, went to  get the snow plow and all we were doing for an hour and a half  was sweeping switches. And they kept wondering where in the hell  we were. Well, we had to sweep switches so we could throw em.  If you were a leading point, you had to have that damn thing over  there. So we finally got it out and got organized and got our  orders and then we came up through. I got rolled. I didn't get  in the right position after throwing a switch. When he went by  snow just rolled right over me (laughs). So I shuck myself off  and got out and went along. Got to Laconia, two of the section  hands, course they had four section hands with us to do the extra  work, disappeared. And I turned around to the section foreman  and I said where the hell's your men? Oh he says I don't know,  I imagine they've gone to the liquor store. Well, goddam, they  both come back with bottles, two of em.

I: So you worked your way from Concord back to Woodsville instead  of coming back up through West Lebanon?

NA: Yeah, well we didn't come to West Lebanon, We put up at Woodsville  when we got there and they wanted us to stay there over night  and go back to Concord. I says, hey I'm a Fitchburg yard man,  I'm not going to stay up here. Oh all right. I said you ought  to be able to find yourself somebody by tomorrow morning. Wingate  says my home base is White River Junction and I'm going so we  both went over to Wells River and caught a CP freight and went  home. The conductor wrote the ticket up. Of course, me I'm a yardman,  wrote the ticket up so I was paid continuous time from the time  we left Concord until I got back into White River Junction that  night. They could justify that because of me being a Fitchburg  division yardman up there. I had to get back to my own home terminal.

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I: A little over 12 hours though wasn't it?

NA: Yeah (laughs)

I: What's the longest trains that came out of White River headed  north? What was the maximum?

NA: Well, it was a general rule was about 95 cars. The Berlin  job always came in with 95 cars every night. So they go around  the loop, put 25 cars on the short, take the engines to the house  but CP would come down and they had D10s which were a 10 wheeler  and they would have 50 or 60 cars as a general rule.

I: The washouts up along Route 5 there happened almost

NA: Since they shut down

I: Well, they happened a lot more during the years too other than  the 28 flood

NA: Well, I don't remember of any wash outs up that road at all.

I: They have a picture of some train up along, I think it's along  Route 5, where the guy is standing there and there is water up  over the rails and all over. Was that uncommon

NA: Well, they had kind a places that it was kind a common but  I don't remember of any washout through there, I don't. They had  just as much trouble down between here and Canaan in some respects  on that stuff.

I: How was it working on the yard in the winter time?

NA: (laughs) You worked careful. You went carefully. No they they  done pretty well. The CV would bring down a Jordan spreader and  they would start in of course, that wing would come way out so  they'd go down this track and they'd plow that track and then  push all the snow over there and then they would back up and come  into the next one and just go to the next track but just use the  wing to push that stuff over. Then they 'd keep pushing it over  until the last run they made was on the main line and they had  it over the bank. But there was one guy they told him not to try  to jump any cars. He was green, he hadn't been at it very long  and he tried to jump one of those cars in a snow bank, well with  the engines going by it rolled up stuff in between the two tracks.  They hadn't plowed it yet and he slipped and went down and lost  a leg; the only accident I know of in White River yard, counting  both yards, that anybody lost anything.

I: Now where did Johnson get killed at, wasn't that...

NA: Oh, he was on the main line

I: Down upon the south end right?

NA: Yeah, right opposite the yard office. He came down and I don't  know just exactly, Harry was awful cautious and paid attention  to what and where, but he walked right in front of that train.  He got hit with that ____ car kawham and that was it.

I: He was coming out of the yard office?

NA: No he was going to work. He had the day switcher ______ and  he was going to work.

I: It struck me that working the yards at night was much different
NA: Oh, yeah yeah yeah

I: Cause those cars you think they make so much noise in the daytime,  but at night they sneak up on you and you don't even hear em.

NA: Oh, yeah I put quite a lot of time on the night switcher down  there, midnight to eight. I had that permanent job for a while.  No we didn't...

I: Did they allow a drop where you'd run by and uncouple and then  throw the switch and let the car go down after it went buy was  that allowed?

NA: Well, it wasn't whether it was allowed or not. We never had  that opportunity cause because all our stuff was just plain switching  down the lead. No we weren't out on the main line and dropping  cars and stuff like that. That's more out that way. Because in  the yard if you had a car you wanted to get on the other end of  ya, all you had to do was set it here and go out around it. You  had enough run arounds so it didn't matter. The thing that I don't  know where in hell the thing came from but we were up about half  way between Nutt Street and the station. Of course there was a  lot more track in there then than there is now. All of a sudden  we heard a hell of a clattering noise. Turned around and looked.  A piece of steel about that long, and I don't remember exactly  how wide it was, it wasn't very wide, laying right on the frog  and here's a train coming right through that switch. And not one  car derailed. Being steel on that one side tipped it up this way  and the flange just came against this rail and it just kept guiding  right straight through.

I: Lucky.

NA: Yeah. We took the piece of steel the hell off the rail fore  somebody did but they got through with that one without anything  happening. The VA was built up here in 1937 or so was it. They  had a car come in, this was just, before World War II, but they  were telling me about it. They had contracted with Cadillac for  an ambulance and back then they transported the cars in 50 footers  that were a little bit higher than the regular box car. They could  jack em up and so forth. But they put this one in all by itself  and the No. 1 track on the end, the automobile cars you could  open them on the end and they brought that up the end of the platform  and they opened it up and there the car, the ambulance had been  going back and forth on the inside of that car. (laughs). They  took it out of there and took it down to Miller's and Miller ordered  all the new parts and rebuilt it for em. There were telling me  about it, that's nothing I knew because that was before my time.

I: Harry Johnson was talking about a wreck a car train that wrecked  up here. They used to bring the cars in at an angle.

NA: Yeah well there not cars. Ford had an assembly plant down  in Framingham, MA and the parts came through. The chassis came  in a gondola on an angle. Now everyone of these bridges had the  clearance from here to Boston made up for those things but they  forgot about the fact Mother Nature can cause an awful lot of  business. They had a frost heave in one bridge (crunching noise)  took all the goddam, the whole load of chassis. (laughs)

I: Yeah, that frost sure played hell with the tracks in the spring  there some places. See em settling and raising. Of course the  road bed under some of it wasn't all that great to begin with.

NA: No it wasn't all that great to start with No.

I: If they'd have put the road bed like the interstate highway  it would have....

NA: (Laughs) I wouldn't say that the interstate highway's done  too well in some places. There is somewhere, I don't know if you've  every heard of it John, but there's supposed to have been a freight  wreck just south of White River Junction down here and I've never  been able to find out anything on it.

I: It was down somewhere around where the gravel pit was

NA: Yeah

I: Somewhere down along the river there.

NA: Yeah, I haven't been able to find anything on that one

I: Whose line is it on?

NA: That would be the CV.

I: Around what period?

NA: I don't know. I mean I've never been able to find anything  so I can nail down anything to speak of on that. All I know is  I've been told there was a wreck down there.

I: I though someone said it was prior to 1900, but I don't know.

NA: It might be. You know about that great railroad that used  to run out of South Royalton, don't you?

I: Great railroad?

NA: Yeah, the Jiggerville Electric Railroad? Well, that was quite  a thing. This is something else. This guy was a little bit of  a joker when he _____. Had a stagecoach route from White River,  hear me again, from South Royalton up to Chelsea and so Jigger  is the name of South Tunbridge and he probably lived there so  he named it Jigger Electric Railroad. And you ought to, I've got  somewhere around here an article come out in one of the Vermonter  magazines on it. It was nothing but a horse drawn stage. He sold  tickets for all kinds of stops and the first guy that he hired  to go along with him was the man that owned the mail route from  South Royalton. So he had the mail route go up through. One of  the trainmen's rules was that Train 50 and 51 would stop for one  hour and twenty minutes at all post offices, that's where they  left the mail off, post offices to allow the post master or post  mistress to read all the postcards. (laughs) He was a real joker,  I'm telling you. God I can't remember now, I think it was way  back in the '70's when the article was written. But it had my  father and my grandfather because my grandfather lived right on  that road to Tunbridge tell about it. He didn't last too long  but.

I: Now you finished out your railroading as what gatekeeper or  at

NA: No switchtender.

I: Switchtender, out there by where the ball signal was by the  station?

NA: Yeah

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