My father loved trains all his life. As a boy in the 1930s, he would go down to the railroad station in Opelousas, Louisiana and watch Missouri Pacific ten-wheelers arrive with their passenger trains. But it was my mother, not my father, that worked for the railroad.
During World War II, while my father was away serving in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific, my mother and her sister took jobs with the Illinois Central Railroad in New Orleans. I'm not sure what my aunt did, but my mom's job with the I.C.R.R. was to type up the waybills which were then stapled to the tack boards on the freights which came through.
One night, a special train was being made up. As usual, mom typed up the waybills and handed them to a young man who worked at the office with her. He would then get on his bicycle, ride out to the train and tack them on the cars. All of a sudden, he burst back into the office. "I'm not going NEAR that train!" He exclaimed. "There's soldiers all around that train with MACHINE GUNS!!" "Oh, for goodness sakes...", my mom replied, "give me those bills".
Mom went out to the train and discovered that it was full of German POWs, on their way to an internment farm.
"Rosies on the railroad" My mom (R) and her sister returning home from working the night shift on the Illinois Central Railroad, New Orleans, Louisiana. Circa 1944.
"Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep 'em rolling..." John.