True Railroad Stories: The Coal Toss

RR track photo

Greetings Readers!

If you read my ‘about’ page you may remember me mentioning that my father would be making contributions to my blog.

Today, he decided to share a ‘feel good’ story from his time as a conductor on the railroad.  It is important to note that this is a true story; and frankly, it is my favorite.

Enjoy!

– Gwin

The Coal Toss

     Many years ago, I was a young railroad conductor who was in charge of a train running between two major cities in the South. At that time, I had a beautiful wife and together we had two healthy children.  I felt very fortunate to be able to provide a comfortable living for myself and my family.
     Anyway, I had been working the same train route for several years so I was very familiar with the surrounding areas.  Oftentimes, I would get to know the people who lived and worked in the smaller towns along the way.  But of all of those places, one place sticks out in my mind for sentimental reasons.  Basically,  it was a tiny ragged shack where a mother and several small children lived.  I remember how the children, whose clothes were always torn and tattered, would run outside and wave to me and my crew whenever we passed by.
     When winter came, I would think about this poor mother with her children.  I thought about how cold they must have been at night.  I also thought about how warm my own children were in my home.  Just as I had completed that last thought, it suddenly occurred to me that there was something that I could do to help.
     The very next day, while gathering supplies for work, I packed an extra bag of coal and tossed it to the family when we passed by.  I knew that the mother could use the extra coal for her potbelly stove to help heat the home and keep her children warm.
     I continued tossing coal to those children for quite some time. I’ll admit that tears welled up in my eyes every time I did it.  I am sure that the railroad wouldn’t have been thrilled to know what I was doing but I felt good about doing it anyway.
     More than 40 years have passed and to this day I often think about that family and I wonder if they remember the conductor who tossed the coal.