Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cold Day at the Roundhouse (Blogophilia 6.7)


Grey skies and a stiff breeze off the river greeted Hart as he left the building.  "Another nippy day at the Roundhouse", he thought as he took out his lunch. A strapping young man made bigger by the work on the rail cars, he was glad for a short break. Even at sixteen, he was known as "Big Man" for his 6 foot 8 inch frame and hard shoulders.  He'd only been working at the rail yard for a few months and Jack.Gilligan, the Foreman  had moved him from Boilerman to Switchman when he found out he could read. Most of the men didn't even know their numbers, much less whole words.



It wasn't that hard of a job. The Locomotives would pull into the Roundhouse, where other Switchmen would detach the couplings and push the cars back into the yard. Hart would then pull the rail switches to allow the cars to fall in place in the pattern required by the Yardmaster. Because he was such a strong kid, he was able to wrangle most cars where they needed to be. It wasn't the easiest job in Savannah, but it paid decently.  Enough to help the family in Bloomingdale through the bad crops for the year. The foreman assured him if he worked diligently, he could even be the Yardmaster someday.

Hart wasn't all that sure. He was just a country boy from a country family. Only reason he got this job was the farm sat just off the tracks and he had made friends with the Gandy Dancers as they made sure the tracks were good and one of them said he should come aboard and he could meet Mr.Gilligan. One thing led to another and here he was.

Pulling his coat a little closer to his collar, he noticed a newspaper on the table. He reached over and brushed the coal dust off and read. The headline stated: "Citizens Support New City Hall". Hart had heard around town the City Fathers had wanted a new building. Hart himself had been to the Savannah Exchange building to pay the taxes on Daddy's farm earlier in the year and marveled at how cramped everything was. It really was abut time. Maybe his brother Steve can get on with the construction crew? Lord knows, he needs something to keep him out of trouble since he got let go here.

The plans in the newspaper looked so grand. More than twice the space as the old building, but occupying the same space. Marveling at the artist's rendering, he wondered if the City needed any help? Then a whistle came from the center of the yard. Another train was due in.

He packed up the remains of his sandwich and he left


_________________________________________________________________________________

Some notes:

This nexus of this story is the construction of the current City Hall in Savannah, GA, which began in February 1903. The headline is from the Savannah Morning News, dated February 20, 1903.  The building was finished and opened to the public December 1906. 

Hartridge "Hart" Heath was my Grandfather and at the time of the story he was an apprentice at the Central of Georgia Railway terminal (also known as the Savannah Roundhouse). He would indeed become the Yardmaster in 1928, later working as the Overseas Freight Agent during the latter part of the 1930's, and finally retiring in Passenger Rail Operations in 1951. Sadly, he died 1955 a few years before I was born, so I never did get to know him. But the stories of his apprenticeship were well known in the family. 


A picture of the finished building:



Sunday, March 23, 2014

In A Bad Starbucks (Blogophilia 5.7)



Barista faces me
La belle fille sans merci
Greasy hair tucked sloppily
In a standard issue green cap
Slappable face sneers out
"What will you have?"

It could be any
Of the cloned places
Providing Pizza, or chicken,
Or sandwiches.
A very small cog
Trying to control
The human seasons.

Just a drop
Of the Java Jive
To kill an hour
Before a meeting

Leather chairs by the door
Invite me to stop
Three chord blues
Piped in from the corporate office
Settle fragile nerves

That meeting can wait. 






Sunday, March 16, 2014

Remember When (Blogophlia 4.7)



No story this week.

No poem.

Maybe a rant from an aging fool.

Aristotle is quoted as saying "Happiness depends on ourselves."

What did he know, he deliberately poisoned himself to avoid treason charges.

When we were young, we were told all things were possible and then warned there would be consequences if the actually tried that. And as we grew older, we found out our elders were right. And we grow more risk adverse as more and more information comes in, all of in the form of cautionary tales of what can go wrong.

But, some of us push through the fear.  Bernie Marcus started as a Pharmacist and found out he liked the front of the store more than behind the drug counter. He pushed on and learned all he could about retailing.  Along the way, he met a thin accountant named Arthur Blank in Los Angeles. Together, they became a threat to their boss and got fired. They pushed through the fear of financial ruin and moved 2400 miles away to open a new Hardware concept store, Home Depot.

I wish I could say I pushed through the fear. I didn't. As those of you who have read me, know I worked for Bernie and Arthur for a little over three years. I could have stuck around and gotten very wealthy. But, I didn't.

I don't care. I learned I don't really care much that much for money and I don't like being the one in power. I don't like the responsibility when things go wrong. I would rather take the orders and go home to my family. 

And listen to the music. 



 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Turmoil (Blogging Lounge #5)

Turmoil, huh?

You want the latest war on the news?

Or the pudgy woman cowering beneath the hand of her partner?

Or the child in the next room crying in the closet, thinking she is next?

Or any other human failing that we can come up with?

Nah.  I'd want to join in and that's too much work. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gossamer Wings

Gossamer wings with a velvet touch
A slip of a faerie in my sleep
Silken umber curls draping across my chest.
Where have come from
Flying in from the night?

Sadness drifts away
With the waning moon
Knowing more than you should
Knowing less than you need
You leave
Love and doubt in your wake.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A night at Calibogue. (Blogophilia 2.7)

Hunter moon throws satin light
Across Calibogue Sound
Lighting the empty table
Cardboard cartons, fortune cookies
In crumbs on painted surface.

Slips of paper laid carefully
One says "It's all in the stars"
The other "My favorite holding
Period is forever".

A lipstick stained glass
Sits next to a plain one
Silk dress laid carefully
Over the chair.
Barefoot prints leading to water.

The man puts his camera away.
The job is done
Client will be pleased.
 



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dear Chris. (Blogging Lounge #4)

Dear Chris,

Yeah, it's me. The future. Thought you would never hear from me, eh?

Thought I didn't exist past 20? Well, you were wrong.

The world didn't end and you didn't kill yourself in a blaze of glory like you thought you would. Oh, I know. "Live fast. Die young. Leave a beautiful corpse.". Yet, you never would qualify for the last one.

Yeah, you are blotto from the graduation parties now. And you (half heartedly) have enrolled at college for the fall. You remind me of the kid in the song "Captain Jack." At least I can tell you that heroin is not in your future. But everything else is.

Thing is, if you would just relax and not let so much get to you, you would be so much better off.

The voices in your head? Oh, they are still here, but I still ignore them. They never have good advice.

Loosen up and take more risks. And ignore that whiny drunk woman on the couch. All she wants is for you to join in her misery and do nothing.

You have talent. Get that FCC license. Get on stage.

Communicate what it is that is in your heart.

Go.

Sincerely,

Year 2014.