THE RAILROADERS by Stuart Leuthner


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The engineer of the Super Chief, the chef on the Century, and 30 other old-time rail-readers tell their not-so-assorted stories--but the chorus of praise will be music to the ears of buffs. And true buffs will be glad Leuthner sought out engineers (21 of the 32 reporting) from lots of the old major lines . . . as well as Maine's tiny (110 m.) Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes RR, where the big problem was snow. These men grabbed at railroad jobs in their teens, before or during WW I (""I just walked away from home . . .""); worked for years as firemen (""When you go to bed at night you're reaching for water in your sleep""); made the shift from steam to diesel engines (easier, cleaner--but, unanimously: ""The thrill was gone. There was no skill to it""); rode out the WW II boom (""We moved everything"") and saw the beginning of the end. Their lives span the heyday of US railroading and they were incontestably, as Oliver Jensen notes in his introduction, ""the aristocrats of blue-collar America."" (The last such, perhaps.) But mechanics and trackmen alike attest to the skills, the camaraderie and responsibility, while the Pullman porter and the Redcap boast of spit-and-polish perfection (and rejoice that they eventually got decent pay). The two women, both raised in Catholic orphanages (""Believe me, I learned a lot more than if I was at my mother's knee""), have the unusual personal tales. But in a showcase format with tangy now-and-then photos: nostalgia-bait plus.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1982
Publisher: Random House