Monday, May 12, 2014

1878 - How a Hat Saved a Life

MAJ. RUBE ALLEN, Com. Vanderbilt's favorite veteran engineer of the Central Road, a man of giant stature, with a brave heart, which is as tender as a woman's, had a new hat for one of the freight brakeman of the road when he can find the right man. One day last week he was coming to Utica, drawing an express train. Just as he approached one of the small stations he saw the foreman of a section gang standing sideways in the middle of the passenger track, apparently watching a passing freight train. Rube quickly tooted his whistle, but the noise made by the freight must have drowned it, for the foreman never stirred. He continued the signal, whistled for brakes and reversed, but the man stood still as if in a reverie. The locomotive had approached so near that Rube could hear the brakeman who stood on the top of his train call out to the trackman and see him move his hands despairingly, as if he feared that he could not save the man. The express was running at a high rate of speed, and could not be stopped in time.

The old engineer was about to shut his eyes to avoid a sight of this mangled victim, when he saw the brakeman pull off his hat, roll it into a ball and throw it at the man. Fortunately, it hit him squarely on the head, and giving a quick backward motion, the trackman just cleared the rails as the locomotive went thundering by. Old Reuben says his heart seemed to come up in his mouth for a minute, and he could not help crying out for joy. He knew that the quick-witted brakeman's old hat was cut to pieces, and he says that he should have a new one "if he never lays up a cent." -- Utica (N. Y.) Herald.

St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
September 21, 1878

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