• Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by steamerjim
Ever since I can remember I have been facinated by steam locomotives. I can still remember, as if it were yesterday, the sound of B&O engines, usually a 2-10-2, charging for a grade and the thundering agonizing drama as it pulled a heavy train up that grade unassisted. Not to mention that sweet smell of steam mixed with coal smoke, and hot cylinder oil, and oh those lonesome midnight whistles.
I know those of you who are younger than I have seen an active steamer pulling a small light train probably operating under reduced pressure. However, unless you have seen and heard what I have described above you will never understand the love and effection I have for these great machines. If such an event were ever staged, I would travel anywhere to see it. It is the most awsome display of power one can see. To this day I have not made peace with the----deisel--- and it's iritating, bleating blat blat horn. If I could be king for a day, I would have all the deisels melted down and use the recycled metal to make garbage cans. Just kidding, deisel lovers. Don Ball said it best " when we had steam we saw it's every movement and heard it's every motion, and we knew that it was not easy to get to that someplace else."
In 1954 I was a ten year old fourth grader in Middletown Ohio which is thirty two miles north of Cincinnati. One Saturday morning me and a classmate, Larry Frye, went to the New York Central depot, and much to our surprise, were able to purchase round trip tickets to Cincinnati. I can remember the ticket agent asking someone in a back office if it would be O.K. and since they were round trip tickets it would be O.K. Upon boarding the train we stayed close to the adult passengers and the conductor assisted us without question. Shortley after the train was underway many of the adult passengers along with the conductor were shocked that we were on our own. The conductor said the ticket agent should not have sold us the tickets. Too late, as I mentioned above, the train was underway. On each trip the train was pulled by a 4-6-4 Hudson locomotive. Although the people we passed along the way had seen engines like this on a regular basis, many of them had a look of awe as they watched and listened to the deep throughty accelerating stack talk as the powerful Hudson blasted the heavens with her sooty exaust.
On the return trip we tried to board the train with no adults around and the conductor did not want to let us get on. We showed him the cancelled tickets we used to get there and I told him if he did not let us on board I would call my parrents----who didn't know about this trip. It worked. Whew!
That evening at dinner I said "bet you can't guess what I did today" and asked my parrents not to not get mad. After assuring them it was not something really bad I told them. They did not believe me untill I showed them my cancelled tickets along with dated receipts for items purchased at the Cincinnati Union Terminal. Both of my parrents were surprised and thrilled that ten year olds could do this on there own. Larry Frey, on the other hand, got a spanking.
Over the years my mother proudly told many people about this trip. At the time I did not think it was a big deal but it was a big deal.
I have often wondered what would happin, in this day and age, if ten year olds tried to purchase round trip tickets for a similar journey. If they were able to I would be even more surprised then I was a long time ago in 1954.
Last edited by steamerjim on Sat Nov 10, 2007 8:37 pm, edited 7 times in total.

  by David Benton
Thanks for the great story , Jim .
Around the same age , i used to travel unaccompanied every school holiday to my cousins place , around 3 hours away . it sure was an adventure , although we were taken to the ttrain , and picked up by adults . i still remember my pint sized aunty yelling through the carriage window at the large man who was sitting in our reserved seats and was refusing to move . she certainly had more guts than the guard (conductor ) who left us standing . (i was travelling back home with my cousin for the 2nd 1/2 of our holiday at my place ) .
also our fascination with the "do not flush the toilet in the station signs ,"surely a open invitation to any young kid .
  by steamerjim
Maby you shold have filled a squirt gun with some of that unflushed toilet water and squirted the large man who wouldn't move. I'll bet he would have moved.
Last edited by steamerjim on Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by umtrr-author
What would happen if ten year olds were to try to do this now?

Probably, their parents would be prosecuted, if not for real, certainly in the press...

Great story! Thanks for sharing.
  by steamerjim
Boy, I would hate to think what would happin to the ticket agent if he sold the 10 year olds tickets.