Railroad Stories: Riding the Rails on the Dinkey

The Dinkey was a small locomotive that ran between towns hauling freight during the week, in the 1920s. It hauled people on the weekends. That’s when Teresa would go to the neighboring towns to shop for eggs, fresh milk and live poultry. Her friends often made the trip with her because it was fun “riding the rails.”

One of their trips got very exciting. They had finished their shopping and boarded the Dinkey for home. Teresa had a firm grip on the live chicken she carried under her arm, but the man who sold them the chicken had not tied its legs tightly enough, and the chicken got loose.

Teresa was in tears. The other girls tried to console her, but it did no good. She cried because she was afraid the chicken would fly through one of the open windows, and if they didn’t have the chicken when they got home, they would have been punished.

The chicken flew all over the Dinkey. Everyone was hollering and trying to catch it. Finally, the conductor caught the scared bird. He tied its feet together securely and handed it back to Teresa, without smiling.

Everything worked out OK. Teresa never told her mother about the incident. Times have changed. No live chickens in shops and no Dinkey.

Catherine Berra Bleem
Sparta, Ill.

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.