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Edition #175  June 1, 2012

For the Camera

Photographer: Gene P. Schaeffer

                                                                      Photo by Gene P. Schaeffer

For the Camera

It’s been laying here for nearly a decade.
I remember the night she came down.
Storms rolled through.
Winds knocked her down along with many trees.
The exact date escapes me.
I was here the morning after the storm.
Hi-railers were out patrolling.
A report the night before reported this pole as being down.
Wires were across the rail.
And the train crew was correct.
Wheel marks on the wire still across the rail.
The maintainers cleared the wire.
After cutting it loose, neat rolls of wire were put in back of the hi-railer.
Those heavy poles were heaved off the right of way.
And that’s were they were laid to rest.
I'm sentimental about the poles and wires.
I use to find those opportunities to listen to the dispatcher’s line.
We’re talking back in the 70's.
I was just a young boy, wide eyed and full of anticipation.
You could hear the hum and crackle over the wire.
Then the voices..."Hello - Rook Dispatcher"...
Came the call.
This is Rook Dispatcher ...” came Eddie Sturgess's reply.
Motor car 120...
We’re here at Monessen...want head west to Sudan.
That 1717 West is by Mooo-Nessen
Then the line up...
Over the wire it came.
Sometimes in later years...
You could hear that same hum and crackle over the airwaves.
I was fortunate...
I experienced it before it was gone.
The pole line...the wires...Rook Train Dispatcher.
Years later...
I mailed a letter to Train Dispatcher Eddie Sturgess.
I looked his name up in the telephone book directory...
As a boy I use to listen to him when that first VHF scanner arrived.
Even have a few cassette recordings of him from back in the day.
After Eddie took retirement.
I wrote and asked Eddie if I could sit down and interview him.
I explained my story...That young boy's story, if you will...
He no doubt knew nothing of me.
But somewhere out there in life was a young man.
Fascinated by the railroad...
And fascinated by the voice of Eddie Sturgess.
Eddie welcomed me into him home just a few weeks later.
With video camera...
He talked railroad...for hours...
I then asked of Eddie...
Could you please...for the camera of course...
Recite just one more time...for me...
What fascinated me so very much back when I was that young little boy...
..."This is Rook Dispatcher"...
Without hesitation came Eddie's reply...
It was for the camera, of course...
You know...
For the camera !

Gene P. Schaeffer


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