by Cpl. Robert Lin Cook
Jan 1942-Sep 1945

Pappy was a railroader
back in days of yore
when things were done
with grit and steam.
You worked your job
and it was mean,
you never saw an
ounce of fire,
once you mounted
 to the rail,
and coal cars were
your travail.

The caller’s call
in early morn
was worse to hear
than a bugler’s horn.
We knew that it
was sure to be
as any fool
could easy see
those coal cars
in the ice and snow.
When one false slip
and you were done,
you had made
 your last run.

Railroaders were 
a rugged crew,
they worked the cars
and engines too,
They kept the trains
a-movin’ on
in dark of night
to early dawn.
In winter’s cold
and summer’s heat
they brought you clothes
and stuff to eat.

And engineers,
to little boys,
were heroes held
in great esteem,
to drive a train
was a life’s dream.
When you stood
at crossing gate
you had to wave
or suffer fate,
for that was 
the thing to do,
to see a train
and wave it through.

Steam has come
and now is gone,
you never hear 
that lonesome sound
that echoed through
the foggy night,
its bright headlight
and haunting sound
are no longer
still around.

*     *     *
The author: Robert Lin Cook served with Reg. Weapons Co. (2d-2d) from 1942-44 at Guadalcanal and Tarawa during
a 33-month overseas tour. 

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