Westbound pullout…10:55

When I write my autobiography,  I will name it ‘Westbound pullout…10:55’. I will do so because that phrase has great significance to me, and I love the way it sounds on a page.

Growing up, my dad worked on the Maybrook, New York railyard. Very busy, bustling place. He actually worked for the New Haven railroad. As did my grandfather (on my mom’s side) and my uncle John.

Dad had all the work he could handle, then came home to a wife (who did not drive at the time) and young kids. Wherever the wife needed to go, after he returned home, he would take her to her destination. Sleep was never a big part of his day.

At night, dad would go to bed at 7 pm to get ready for a later evening of work, often double shifts. Across from dad’s bedroom was the TV room, and in between was our only phone.

During the evening, the phone would ring, and I was the one who would usually answer…

‘Westbound pullout….10:55’

That was the entire message…not ‘Hi, how ya doin”…nothing else…..it was a message telling dad where to show up for work and the time.

I had to give this message to dad immediately.

During those years, I never remember any variation of ‘westbound pullout’…ever. I never remember hearing ‘eastbound pullout’ or ‘southbound pullout’.

And the time was usually 10:55, but it could have been 11:55.

There was no such thing as too sick, or too much snow, or too cold. At about 10:00, he would dress in his railroad work outfit, pack a lunch in his lunchbox, pick up his lantern, and head off. Working outside the entire night, no matter the temperature.

Years of such blue collar work enabled him to own a home with forty acres, own half interest in a summer cottage, and put five kids through college….on his own (Mom stayed home).

Those days are forever gone.

But this post is dedicated to the faceless voice that became my evening companion for years…

‘Westbound pullout….10:55’

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