Black operating crews in the Northeast

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Black operating crews in the Northeast

  • When I hired on the Penn Central in the early '70's in Selkirk, NY, you could count on one hand how many black men were working in the operating department. There was on e black engineer working the West Shore (Selkirk to Weehawken); and 2 black brakeman/conductors. I don't believe it was intentional discrimination...maybe more subtle. There were  of course many blacks working in the M/W and Car Departments. I remember one black conductor working on the B&A (Boston-Selkirk), over the years we got to be great friends, his name was Curtis Standsberry. He hired on the old NYC in Boston in the M/W dept; then '69 hired as a brakeman on the PC in Boston. Curtis grew up in Mississippi in the bad days---but he would joke about those times too.

    Curtis stayed with Amtrak in 1986 (when Amk started using their "own" Trainmen/Conductors/Engineers, instead of renting us operating crews from the freight RR's), and he was very popular with the crews and Passengers on 449/448 Boston-Albany until his death in 1999. I was stationmaster in Albany on the night that 449 was bringing Curtis to his buriel in honor Curtis on on his last "run", I put down 43 torpedoes on the Post Road Branch coming into Albany Station that shook the neighbors up that night (I got calls from the Police dept wanting to know what all the "shooting was about"). That's how you salut an old railroader on his last "run".

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  • 43 Torpedoes?  Gee, the President or any other chief of state only get 21 guns.  Curtis must have been one hell of a nice guy!

  • It is nice to go out with a bang!!!

    Happy New Years & Thx


  • And the same to you!

  • You had to experience it to appreciate it.....

    a comfortable, in a LA, Southern Cal feeling way. after midnight an hour or so, time when the last Watts local on the former PE rails would leave from 610 South Main's platforms down the ramp about one-story to street level and the hard right turn.

    Jamming into the cars were what became wall-to-wall rail- and juice fans...packed in sardine can tight.

    some fans though, it was said, stripped every switch-engine they could get into at Butte St yard of all their torpedoes and fastened them on the ramp track the "Last Watts Car"  was destined to use.

    The penultimate departure occurred this warm night with its melancholy  masses aboard.

    In a couple of car-lenghth's the gantlet of a couple of hundred feet of hundreds of torpedoes-covered rail was encountered. The windows on the cars were open; smoke rapidly diminished visibility in the cars to near zero and future hearing-aid sales volume increased exponentialy.

    You had to be there.....20 years later I was an SP officer in 610 S. Main....couldn't go in there without a flashback.

    one more ride way out there pioneers 

  • Just curious, are track torpedoes used anymore?

    And an aside, an old-timer I knew in the gun business told me when he was a kid in the 30's they loved to use track torpedoes as targets.  One solid hit with a .22 and BOOM!  He used to get them from friendly Jersey Central crews.

  • No not amymore...the last place where torpedoes were in the flagging rules was in Canada until a few years ago. The last Canadian rules class I went to before I retired (I was qualified Rouses Point, NY to Montreal on CNR) the rule for torpedoes was out of the CROR (Canadian Railroad Operating Rules) test.

    I made a mistake once, proped a "gun" (RR slang for torpedoes) on a rock ledge, and after 10-15 throws with a baseball size rock, hit it from about 15 feet away!!!! I couldn't hear anything for a good 15 mins!

  • Thanks for the response Jimbok.  I didn't think they were used anymore, what with the advances in communications and signaling I figured their time had come and gone.

    Depending on what part of the country you're in, you can still get exploding targets!   Won't shatter your eardrums like a track torpedo, but they're still a lot of fun!