I made a composite photo of Ed Schleyer's photos:
I was working the Montauk Greenport relief job as one of the senior Firemen. The engineer and I worked 3 days to Montauk, 3 days to Greenport and 3 days off. This was not a monotonous job. In my short time as a fireman, I hit cars, trucks and the guy that trimmed me off the job, hit an airplane. The day of this incident, I ran the train to Montauk and The engineer Howard King brought it back, well almost all the way back. I’m not sure of the consist, I think (2) varnish on the west end and (5) coaches, not Pings, (1) engine #215. We left Montauk with probably (1) paying rider. The flag man had his son riding in the rear coach with him. I don’t know if we picked up any riders before Bridgehampton, but we had way to much running time - Montauk to Speonk. We were in “coast”, until the curve before Bridgehampton. Now I am sitting with my feet up on the front door frame. Going around a right hand curve, I can’t see the roadbed ahead and Howard says “we’re going in”. I can’t connect this phrase to anything but a “meet”. I looked over at Howard and the next thing you know, I’m head to head with him. I’m wedged in between the water cooler and the control stand, laying down and the engineers front window is broken and lots of mud and water are passing over our heads. Howard got hit in the face with the windshield, but other than being covered with mud we were OK. At the moment we were turning over, the thought that we were at the Water Mill curve went through my mind. We had derailed and were going into the Water Mill Pond. I knew by now (everything in slow motion) I’m gonna survive the derailment, but I’m gonna drown, I don’t know how to
swim. The water from the water cooler was draining on my head and the mud was filling up the engineers side of the engine.
When we stopped moving, I killed the engine and started digging Howard out. We went out the front door and walked down the side of the engine to someplace that didn’t look like a one story drop to the ground. I left Howard there and went in the front door of the head parlor car and came into the passageway that the attendant room connected to. The attendant was sitting on the corridor wall trying to collect the little liquor bottles that had spilled into the corridor. I reached down and picked out two bottles of scotch, I figured that we needed a drink. The attendant started freaking out about how he was responsible for all of the beer and chips etc. I told him that every volunteer fireman from Montauk to Speonk was gonna be here in a few minutes and he better go get in the ambulance that was outside or face all of the volunteers that were gonna show up. He went out the end of the corridor that I had come in. I went the other way and came into the head car where the conductor was on the other end of the car. The offset door was now up above our heads and the conductor was convinced he was gonna die there because we couldn’t climb up to the door. I grabbed him by the hand and led him to the other end where the door was on the bottom. The conductor went on his way and I went up to see Howard on the main track. It seems my timing was bad when I offered him the bottle of scotch. It seems that (2) teenagers, arrested and released, stole tools from a section shed and went to the switch that was the entrance to a coal trestle. They smashed the lock and switch stand, opened the switch and waited for us to go up the siding, off the end and into the school. Needless to say the locomotive couldn’t make the 15 mph turnout at 40 mph.
Before I could leave I had to go back into the locomotive. I had to make sure there wasn’t a flag stick in the “Dead Man” and I had to pick up all my fillets of flounder that I had caught from the docks where the submarines used to tie up. Five pounds of fish that would have really smelled bad by the time #215 got back to the shops. I got the fish and climbed back outside on the outside of the engine compartment. When I got there a little old lady was screaming and yelling at me “ look what you did to the fence around the school”. I interrupted her shouting to ask her if she liked fillet of flounder and would she like five lbs right now. She said yes and I threw five lb plastic bag at her and hit her in the chest, knocking her on her rear. She said “thank you” and the problem with the fence disappeared. By now all the buses and cabs in town were gone, being used to transport the crew to Patchogue, I didn’t have a way to get home. As I started to walk toward the next crossing, I see a LIRR Bronco coming toward me on the tracks. When he got to me he stopped and asked what I was doing there, I told him and his response was, what do I look like, some kind of Taxi, if you want to get home you better start hitchhiking right now because it’s getting dark. With that he drove off. I walked to the crossing and found an open store. I went in and used the phone to call my wife. I told her that no matter what she hears, I’m OK. I went back to the crossing, took one last look and stuck out my thumb. The first car that came along was a fisherman headed back home. He dropped me off at the entrance to Belmont Lake State Park and my house faced on the park. The next day I took my wife and son back out to Bridgehampton, where I took the pictures. Information, text, and photos: Ed Schleyer
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