Sunday, June 19, 2005

Been Workin' on the Railroad......

My dad was born during World War One. He grew up in the little farm town of Emerado, North Dakota, one of ten children of Sylvester and Grace Grantham. Sylvester owned the only grocery and general merchandise store in town--although Grand Forks, a much bigger town where the locals went to do their serious shopping, was only fifteen miles away. In the late '30's, he bought a fleet of grain trucks to carry the nearby farmers' wheat to the grain elevator in Emerado. Dad and his brothers drove some of the trucks during the harvest.

Grandpa died when I was two, so I don't remember him. Dad spent a couple of year being a hobo, riding the rails and seeing the country. I wish he'd told me more about those adventures. He came back, got a job on the Great Northern Railroad, which had him working as a telegraph operator at small town train depots in the surrounding area. His job included receiving train orders by telegraph, typing them out and handing them off to trainmen on passing trains.

When WWII broke out, Dad went down to enlist, but was told that railroad men were needed on the railroad. He stayed on the job. It was during this time he met, wooed and married my mom.

I was born during World War Two, in another small town, Langdon, North Dakota. Langdon is a stone's throw from the Canada border, also in farming country. It was one of a number of small towns in which Dad worked early in his career. He also worked in his home town (Emerado) where I attended first and second grades, then Larimore, another nearby town where I went to third and fourth.

Seemingly, my "real life" actually started when Dad got a job at the Grand Forks rail yard, and managed to stay there for several years--through the school years of all four of his kids. Grand Forks was (and is) a really good town to grow up in.

One of the worst things about Dad was his (very) occasional bouts with Demon Rum. It didn't happen often, as I recall, but it was very uncomfortable for all of us--especially Mom--when it did.

The best thing, from my POV, was that he and Mom pretty much left us alone to grow up without "too much" interference. I made my own mistakes and learned from them. I had some rather amazing adventures, some of which could've been my end. As my muse takes me, I'll probably tell the odd tale on these pages.

Unfortunately, Dad passed away a couple of years ago and, though he led a very interesting life in his own right, I owe him a debt of gratitude for allowing me to become the man I've turned into.

Thanks, Dad.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

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