In my last week as a trainmaster for the Colorado & Southern Railway in Denver, I realized I was finally leaving the railroad. And while driving down little dead ends in Denver, I happened upon this old tired F9 unit, one that I had worked as a brakeman years before. It was sad like I was .
I had such high hopes when I went to work for the Burlington Northern in 1979. My father had always preached to me the importance of getting a “permanent” job that would give me a place to hang my hat for 30 years or longer and provide a pension and gold watch when I retired. Those were the good old days that everyone talks about but that now just don’t exist. When I went to the railroad extra board as a novice brakeman, I was excited and looked forward to a prosperous career with the BN. When I was given the choice of either being a locomotive engineer or trainmaster, I felt like I had finally been given the opportunity to follow my dad’s advice.
Those were the good old days. In the crazy times today, where people aren’t looking for jobs and careers it seems, but for statues to topple because of some sort of perceived grievance, I wish we were back in the good old days.
Of course, the good old days are hindsight. Sitting up in the caboose cupola gazing out at a vibrant multicolored Minnesota forest on a warm fall day was a time not to be forgotten. But pleasant hindsight is not riding a cut of cars down a narrow sidetrack in a 30 below blinding snowstorm straining your eyes to see how far away the boxcars are that you are supposed to make a joint with. And at the last minute discovering that the handbrake on the propane tank car you are riding doesn’t work.
It’s all in perspective.
I can think of many pleasant memories of my years with the railroad and I wrote about them in my book. And some not so pleasant memories but memorable for sure!