Tommy B. Lemmer was a guy I worked with on the Santa Fe Railroad. Knowing full well that there are some six billion people on this planet, I will shamelessly declare that, “Tommy was unique. He was one of a kind. He was my friend.” I have not spoken with him in years, don’t even know how to get ahold of him, but he can still make me smile.
If you were to walk down the hallway of a caboose, look up into the copula where he was sitting and say, “Hey Tom, where are we?” Tommy would immediately spin his chair around, take a quick look behind him, and then say “Coming into White Eagle.”
He always did that, spun the chair around, and checked his geographical railroad position in that manner.
We were working a freight out of Enid, Oklahoma one day and rumbling downhill into Marshall, Oklahoma, at some 50+ miles an hour, and a bull hauler failed to stop at the crossing and moved on across the tracks in front of us. Holy ____ !
No one wants to plow into a Semi at fifty-miles-per hour trust me, but we did.
He puts both of his feet up on the wall, braces himself, and watches as our locomotive T-bones this animal carrier dead center and we slice thru it like an empty beer can. Which at that point, Tommy looks down on the floor at the rest of us and says …. “Man, did you guys see that?”
Tommy always makes me smile.
Howard Goatley was another one, he would work the passenger train, occasionally bending down to look out the windows, to see where it was HE was at that time. Tommy was helping him take up tickets one day, and got to this lady and took her ticket, looked down at her baby and exclaimed … “Man, that is the ugliest baby, I ever saw.”
Which really did not sit well with the lady passenger.
Shortly thereafter here came Howard and the lady voiced her complaint about Tommy and his opinion of her child. Howard apologized profusely, telling her, “It is not the intention of the railroad madam to insult you in any way, shape or manner. As a token of our sincere gratitude for your business and to freely apologize for any insult you may have received, I will furnish you a totally free dinner in the dinning car.”
The woman seemed calmed by this offer and thanked Howard.
He then looked at her and said, “Oh nothing to it. Glad to be of service to you. While you are there, ask the boys in the kitchen to give you a banana for your monkey!”
Like I said before, “Railroaders are a crazy bunch, they always make me smile.”