Railroad Stories: Boy Fascinated By Diesel Engine Train

Youngster thrilled to ride diesel engine train to next town.

| Good Old Days

When I was 8 years old, the first diesel engine train pulling one passenger car stopped at our train depot in Oxford, Fla. The principal let the whole school out early, so the children and faculty could go see it. The engine was green trimmed in yellow. The engineer gave us all pamphlets with information about the new diesel engine. He also let us go through it, to see for ourselves what it was like.

The engineer said he would give us a ride to Wildwood, about five miles away, if we could make arrangements to get back to Oxford. I knew I didn't have a way to get back, but I was determined to ride anyway. On the trip, one boy asked me how I was going to get back. I told him I was going to go back with him and his mother, which was news to both of them.

When we got to Wildwood, there happened to be a train headed toward Oxford, so the engineer said we could ride back on it. My parents didn't know anything about it until I got home.

My family eventually moved to Wildwood, the largest railroad center in the southeastern United States of America. Most everybody there worked for the railroad. It was known as The Seaboard Coastline Railway.

I remember walking home from school. The train tracks were right beside the highway, and the coal smoker engines blew smoke in my face and cinders would get in my eyes. Sometimes they would let off steam, and I was so scared I would get burned that I would run to the other side of the road.

I went into the service when I was 18. That was in 1945, during World War II. I was inducted into the service and got on one troop train after another and traveled to many different states. These trains were the old coal smokers with no air conditioning, just glass windows with screens.

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