Lodge St. Andrew #518

He Was A Railroad Man

Train Conductor

Dispatcher Keys of the Rock Island who examines all applicants for positions in the train service has the reputation of being very particular in the matter of employing trainmen, desiring only those who have considerable experience in that branch of service. The following is a conversation said to have been overheard in Mr. Key’s office a short time since, between that gentleman and an applicant for the position of passenger conductor:

“Where did you come from?”
“From general manager St. John of the Union Pacific.”
“What did you come here to do?”
“To learn to subdue my energies and improve the railway service.”
“Then you are a railroad man I infer?”
“I am so taken by all officials who know their business.”
“How may I know you to be a railroad man?”
“By looking over my letters and examining me in the signals, try me.”
“How will you be tried?”
“By the punch.”
“Why by the punch?”
“Because it is the emblem of honesty and the principal working tool of my profession.”
“Where were you first prepared to be a railroad man?”
“In my mind.”
“Where next?”
“Upon a farm adjoining the right of way of a regular railroad.”
“How were you prepared?”
“By breaking in upon a thrashing machine for six months, after which I went to town and sought admission to the train master's office.”
“How gained you admission?”
“By three cigars placed in the open hand of the train master's clerk.”
“How were you received?”
“Upon the sharp gaze of the train master applied to my physiognomy which was thus explained: As it is always a source of great pleasure to the train master to receive callers, I should drop in and chat with him a little upon every occasion possible.”
“How were you then disposed of?”
“I was seated in a chair near the train masters desk and asked if I put my faith in coupling devices.”
“Your answer?”
“Not if I know myself, I don’t.”
“What was then done to you?”
“I was lead up and down the yard three times to accustom me to the noise of a train, and then to the Chief Dispatchers office.”
“How were you then disposed of?”
“I was seated upon a break wheel before a train box and caused to take the following oath:

“I John Smith, do hereby and hereon most everlastingly and diabolically swear by the great horned spoon, that I will always remit and never conceal any of the cash collected by me as a conductor, and that I will not cut, make use of, remit, or collect any cash fares less than those found in a regular tariff book.”

“I will furthermore promise and swear that I will not carry on my train free any railroad man’s wife, mother, sister, daughter, or widow or permit any other conductor to do so, if I can prevent it.”

“I furthermore promise and swear that I will freely contribute to all subscriptions circulated to buy my superior officers a token of esteem so far as he may desire and my salary will permit.”

“To all of which I do solemnly swear, binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my salary cut from year to year, all prerequisites taken away and expended for sand ballast to put under the McKinley extension, where the trains come and go twice in twenty-four hours, so help me Bob Ingersoll and keep my back bone stiff.”

“What did you then behold?”
“The train master's clerk approached me and presented me with a Bishop’s Safety Coupling knife and instructed me to take it to the yardmaster who would teach me how to use it.”
“How were the Bishop’s coupling knives used?”
“By sticking them in the left hand hip pocket with the blade turned up.”

Mister Keys here informed the applicant that he was satisfied that he was a railroad man and asked him if he would be off or from.

“I will be off from here, if you will give me a passenger train.”
“Have you any cigars?”
“ I have.”
“Will you give them to me?”
“That is not the manner in which I got them and I cannot so dispose of them.”
“How can I get them?”
“I will match you, heads and tails for them.”
“I will go you, begin.”
“You begin.”
“No, you begin, you have the cigars.”
“You are OK. Come around tomorrow evening and if the road is not in the hands of a receiver I will send you out on No. 7 in place of Conductor Reilly, who recently fell down while undergoing the examination.”

Through the courtesy of Mr. Lester W. Graves, retired City Passenger Agent,
C.R.I. & P.R.R. 314 Perry St. Davenport, Iowa
c/o Lester W. Graves Travel Agency
I picked this up circa 1955...ddk

Sent to me by Bro. Stephen McKim / Lafayette / Indiana / USA