Huntington, Life in the Railway Mail, Logan Banner, Logan County, poem, poems, poetry, Three Forks, West Virginia, writing
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this poem written by Evert W. Husk of Huntington and Three Forks titled “Life in the Railway Mail”, written on January 8, 1923 and published on January 19, 1923:
“LIFE” IN THE RAILWAY MAIL
“Put your overalls on, Buddy, and likewise your jacket blue,
For the porter soon is comin’ with four-wheelers–one and two.”
“Number one is mostly workin’, number two is all directs,”
Says the porter through the doorway but the clerk-in-charge corrects
That the two of them mean business and it proves as he suspects.
In old Forty-Three they load it, calling “workin'” one and two–
These R.P.C.’s in uniforms–their overalls of blue.
Pile it wide and straight and careful so that it will stand the shock,
When the drivers roll too swiftly and the coaches roughly rock,
And the “subbie” gets so frightened that his knees begin to knock.
When at length the car is loaded and the engine coupled-to–
First a slightly jerky motion, then it shakes you through and through,
Then you dump them on the table in an agitated way,
Grab and turn, and pitch and throw, as a tedder tosses hay,
Till you scarcely know time passes as you journey on your way.
While the clerk-in-charge sticks letters with the skill of a machine,
Striving not to make an error that his record may be clean.
Too, he has his “reds” to handle–job despised by one and all,
Signing cards for Mr. Peter, sending cards to Mr. Paul,
And the slightest little error means his very certain fall.
Then you hear the whistle sounded and the clerk-in-charge to shout,
“Here’s the package for this station, you had better lock it out.”
In the doorway next you stack ’em piled with skill and knowing care,
As you glance along the railway in a cinder flying glare,
See the pouch on crane is hanging and you “stab” it then and there.
Unlock, dump it on the table, hand the “pack” to C-in-C.
Then return unto your papers for you must not leave them be.
You are gaining headway slowly on the stalls of working mail,
And the engine ever signals as it speeds along the rail.
“Lock it out! and lock it quickly, lock it out or you will fail!”
It is thus the day unirksome speeds along to tireless noon,
And you eat a scanty dinner without knife or fork or spoon.
But there’s humor in the “Life,” boys, even fun in going stuck,
Don’t the fair ones in the doorways sometimes wave a sweet good luck?
Then the C.-in-C. grows peppy and the helper clerk shows pluck.
Piffle! Merits and demerits–five for this and ten for that.
Why the skinny one grows skinny and the fatter grows more fat.
Though we have to stick a section, pass on space and black book too,
‘Bout the first of every quarter of the bloomin’ year all through,
The “annual” and the “layoff” keeps us on and lures you.
You are not on duty, boys, in this layoff day or week.
But a few things keep you busy and of them my name must speak.
Slips to fold and cards to check up, and also correct your schemes,
Ans’wring this, explaining that often poils your sweetness dreams,
And with other things unmentioned, “lay-off” isn’t what it seems.