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Train Jumping

Posted by LOTGK on December 4, 2007

When I was a young lad, my neighborhood had a train that ran through it. It was right at the top of my street and like a powerful magnet, it attracted me to it. I was warned at a very young age that the train and the tracks were very dangerous and I was not to go anywhere near either. Of course I couldn’t stay away.

Back in the 1960’s and early 70’s the train kept a pretty tight schedule and I honed in on it when it came past my street. Soon I would not heed the warnings of playing near the train and one day I found my crossing the street to where the tracks were. The first thing I did was to place a on penny on the rail tracks and then safely wait on the other side of the street for the train to come by and flatten the penny out. I was told that a penny could derail the train so I took the proper precautions and crossed the street. Amazingly, the train did not derail. I later learned that bricks, tree branches, or a bicycle on the tracks would not derail a train. Sometimes, when I was feeling saucy and had the coinage, I would place a nickel on the track to flatten it out as well.

Man, that was cool. The penny would flatten out to the size of a half dollar and all recognition of Lincoln or writing would be gone. The nickel would wind up the size of a solver dollar and it also had no recognizable marks. This was having fun in the 60’s and the 70’s my friends.

As time went on, I accumulated quite a collection of flat coins and we began other games to play with the train.

We weren’t stupid enough to try and pull in front of the train or to build a ramp and try to leap over the train. Instead, we took up the sport of train jumping. Technically, it wasn’t jumping, well, sort of. Let me explain.

Since the train came through a residential area it was moving slower than normal. The gang (Mob) would gather at the top of the street and as the last car of the train came by we would all sprint across the street for the train. Rarely did the train have the typical red caboose as the last car with a railroad employee. (That would have ruined everything) Each train car had a ladder on the back. We would climb the ladder and climb on top. Most of the times we only jumped on the flat cars, they were much easier to ride on.

Every other street had several kids waiting to jump the train. Sometimes we had over a dozen kids on the train. As the train moved down Southern Boulevard we would wave to the cars driving by us. Most would just stare at us. Some would try to race up tp the engine car and try to alert the conductor. Only once was the train stopped.

We would ride about two miles until we crossed over Route 224 to Baordman Park. From there, we would climb down the ladder and jump from the train. We would all hang out at the park for the day and then walk home.

Or, maybe catch the train back home.

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