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Saturday, November 11, 2017



The N.Y., P. & N. railroad station in 1905.

My grandfather said very little about his early years, probably because there wasn’t too much variety in his life. His formal education ended in 1904 when he was 15 years old and still in the fifth grade. He then began a life of hard work that would last for some 63 years when he finished building his last house at age 78. His first job was working for his father on the family farm. Apparently his father had a way of dispensing punishment with what my grandfather called a buggy whip. He was made to lean over a railing and, when his father struck him he said he could see his own blood spurt from the wound on his stomach. One day, when he was 16, he took the whip from his father before he could touch him, pushed him down a flight of stairs and told him he was the last man that was ever going to lay a hand on him. That night, he left home for good,

He walked the two miles to Salisbury by way of Anderson Road (now Pemberton Drive) and went to the railroad station. The railroad station in 1905 was the N.Y., P. & N. Station (New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk) and was located on the West side of the tracks about 200 yards South of where the Union Station is today. He inquired of the station attendant when the next train was coming through. He said he didn’t care at the time whether it was heading North or South. The attendant told him that the only train going through that night was an express going South, to which my grandfather replied, “I didn’t ask what it was, I asked when it was coming through.”

Around 9:30 that night he took a chance that could have ended his life before it started. He said the train was going 30-35 mph as it approached the station. The attendant told him he could never catch it, but he hadn’t figured on my grandfather’s desperation and determination. As the train approached, he began running down the platform and was positioned to make his move when the train’s box cars passed close to him. He often told me that when he grabbed the ladder attached to one of the box cars he knew that if he didn’t hang on he would have been thrown under the train and killed. The jolt he got when he was snatched up by the speeding train separated him from his prized derby hat and relieved him of all the buttons on his leather jacket. But, hang on he did. He was now heading South, with no hat, and only the clothes of his back and $4.35 in his pocket. He said his hat had his name in the hatband and one of his family ended up with the hat. When he finally came home for good in 1910, the hat wasn’t returned to him and he never had much to do with his family for the rest of his life.

He stayed on that train until he finally got off in Pee Dee, South Carolina.


Anonymous said...

Did your Grandfather talk about those years while he was away. What he did to survive?

As always, great story!

George said...

I have many stories about his 5 years on the road, mostly about the South Carolina logging camps. I will post select stories in future posts.

freddie w said...

It is such a pleasant relief to read and hear the history. Thanks for the posts George.

Anonymous said...

Did he talk about the Bay crossing? Then, and to this day, there is a rail barge pulled by tug across the bay from Cape Charles over to the Hampton Roads area. Did he stay on the box car during that whole time? That would have been an adventurous ride.

As you mentioned the NYP&N (which was a part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system) ran through Salisbury. At Norfolk the box car must have been passed on to the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad which ran from there to Pee Dee.

As you can tell, I am a train buff LOL

Anonymous said...

Delmar opted to tear down their train station somewhere in the late 50's instead of moving it.I was really young but I still recall how upset locals were at the loss.

Anonymous said...

Last of the Good Ole Days !!!