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TDArkansasOhmy

Midnight Train Through Arkansas

14 posts in this topic

In the Spring of 1972 in the sleepy little town from which I lived and still reside today, I was in junior high school. And something that a group of us started that year was a camping/fishing extravaganza on a nearby lake.

With the blessings from our parents and some assistance from them as well, by getting our gear to the site due to the fact none of us were old enough to drive, we set forth to the great outdoors in search for adventure and great fishing. And who knows, perhaps some ole whores looking for a good time with 14 & 15 year old outdoors men.

We arrived at the site for our two day adventure around 3:30 to set up camp. My dad along with another father hauled our gear out to the lo-cal for us.

The camping party consist of four. It was me, Mitch Baker, Lloyd Elliot and Stew Story. Mitch's dad brought a flat bottom boat for us and we put it just below us where we set up camp. We had all the basic essentials that a 14 year ole frontiersmen needed. Bubblegum, Beef Jerky, Frito's, peanut butter and Mt. Dew. All the basic food groups for a young mind and body. Yup we were ready for our two days in natures wonderland.

Around 7:30 after sharing stories of days gone by as we sat around the camp fire, we came to the realization that we had run out of supplies. Slight panic set in for a brief moment as we realize that we were in the wilderness without food or Mt. Dew. After calming Lloyd down and convinced him we were going to die, we took the appropriate measures for survival in that case. We must walk the grueling one mile to the convenience store down by the interstate highway in search for food.

It was at that moment that a car full of kids from High School pulled up to our campsite in the wilderness. Among them was another one of our classmate and friends Denny Lee Jones. He was traveling with these hoodlums because his older brother were among the group. And let me tell you, these guys were intimidating. Three out of four of them had sideburns. And one smoked. Non filters. So you can now better understand what we were dealing with.

They kicked dirt in our face, Knocked down one of the pup tents, and held Lloyd down giving him a wet willy along with an atomic wedgie which still makes him walk with a limp to this day. We were helpless. They wanted Mt. Dew and M&M's and we didn't have any.

It was at that moment that we heard the train whistle from miles away as it roared through town. One of the older kids shouted out, "quick, to the overpass". The overpass he spoke of was the bridge that went over the railroad tracks leading out of town out by the lake. It was a hard three hundred yard sprint for us as we reached the guard rails.

Hell I had no idea what they had in store as the train was to run from under the bridge. I thought we would do something mischievous like spit on a rail car or sumpun. But no. Not these misfits from society. They had mayhem and destruction on their minds.

As one was dragging behind the rest of us as the train approached, We notice in the dark that he was dragging something. We come to realize that it was a huge tree stump that had apparently falling off a trailer, or truck. He yell for us to help him lift it upon the side rail of the bridge. As the other high school kids gave him a hand, me and the camping party seen our chance to make a break and we went for it. We ran through the Arkansas night like the wind And got back to our camp in hopes that the derailment which were bound to occur would not be blamed on us, as the big boys with sideburns would be killed without question in the wreckage.

Denny Lee stayed within viewing distance of the crime as the older boys tossed the massive tree stump off the overpass and watch it as it crashed through the skylight of the caboose.

In the days that followed, all four of the high school bullies were arrested. Word from the indecent spread and a motorist passing by the night of the crime identified the four guys on the bridge. Thank God the four of us, plus Denny Lee were never question in the crime of the century.

Now, we fast forward five years.

While cruising around town one Sunday afternoon in the Fall of the year, Hank Ritchie and I were in his Nova, stopped at a railroad crossing just east of town. I notice that the on coming train was slowing down to a very slow speed. Seeing this before, I recalled that when trains did this is meant that they were going to stop long enough in town for someone to come tout to the train to deliver them food. So with that in mind, I made a decision that would change my life forever. I got out of the Nova and yelled back at Hank to pick me up at The downtown crossing as I jumped into a open box cart. This meant Hank must back up and travel two miles to that crossing.

Awe, it was always my dream to ride the open rails and this mile and a half journey would last me a life time sumpun I could share with friends at SECTalk one day.

I notice after jumping aboard the open cart that the train has seem to pick up momentum. And in fact it did. I remembered going by the main street crossing at a high rate of speed and seeing Hanks Nova waiting for me to bail out. But I couldn't, we were going much to fast for this stowaway to jump.

Long story short. I ended up 88 miles west from town in Fort Smith. When the Missouri Pacific main yard was. As the train come to a stop. I got out, scared, cold and hungry. With school tomorrow, I just knew I'd get a tardy slip from my homeroom teacher. As I walk through the railroad yard, a man yelled at me. "Hey kid, what are you doing here at 9 o'clock at night"? and my answer had to be a honest one. "I'm starving mister".

He arranged for me to get a ride back to my town as a scheduled east bound train was heading toward Little Rock. We went to a little shack where he introduced me to a gentlemen with one ugly ass head. Reminded me of Frankenstein. He said "Burt, can you see that this young fellow get back to his town safe and sound". Burt was one of the brakemen for MoPac. And he guided me to the east bound train and we got aboard.

As Franken...errrr Burt and I approached the west side of my town, the morning sun was coming up. As Burt stuck his head out the window of the caboose then quickly stuck it back in and with a spooked look on his face, he looked at me and said, "Kid, keep you head down, not to long ago, one night heading to Ft. Smith a god damn tree trunk come crashing through the roof onto my head".

They were total silence. I almost choked on my samich. You could have schit in my mouth.

You talking about what goes around, comes around, then that is the perfect example.

This was a true story of a time where people helped people. I could have easily been arrested in the dark rail yard that cold November night. But thanks to some kind people who took the time to show me the way home, I never strayed away again. And my days of riding the open rails came to a halt that morning as my pal Burt let me off at the Main Street Crossing where they were no sign of Hank or his stupid Nova.

And although exhausted, I made it to school on time.

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Stew Story!! You mean you was friends with him!! I don't believe it.

I don't know him, but I worked with a fella named Steve Story in the sawmill down in Dodson, La. I wonder if they kin.

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Great story. After 35 years working for the railroad I came in contact with a lot of people riding the rails.

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Stew Story!! You mean you was friends with him!! I don't believe it.

I don't know him, but I worked with a fella named Steve Story in the sawmill down in Dodson, La. I wonder if they kin.

I seriously doubt it. Stew was in a fatal automobile accident on prom night 1974. Both he and his date, Lydia Crosswaithe were lost in the accident. She was killed instantly (decapitated) and he died in the hospital two days later. He was an only child according to his sister.

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that story had a "Stand by Me" feeling to it

Alot of similarities there

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As god is my witness, only the names were changed to protect the innocent. It happened as described. I could care less if you are non believers.

A footnote to that story, I walked all the way home from the Rail road tracks that morning. And as I was doing my best to sneak in the house without momma detecting me, I notice from a block away my dad hadn't yet left for work.

I thought oh schit. I'm dead. So I went ahead to accept my punishment. Pop's was coming out the back door when I entered the back yard. He was getting ready to start his truck for work and that's when he noticed me in the yard. he looked at his watch, then at me, and said, 'if you'll hurry, you can make it to you room, your mother is in the bathroom". He gave me that father look as to say, "You own me big time kid".

Like I said, I made the bus, and mom never knew that I had left the county. It was also my 1st time my pops didn't treat me like a kid.

But in years to come there were several occasions that I nearly escaped death at the hands of my father. Not physical, but by the looks he gave me.

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As god is my witness, only the names were changed to protect the innocent. It happened as described. I could care less if you are non believers.

A footnote to that story, I walked all the way home from the Rail road tracks that morning. And as I was doing my best to sneak in the house without momma detecting me, I notice from a block away my dad hadn't yet left for work.

I thought oh schit. I'm dead. So I went ahead to accept my punishment. Pop's was coming out the back door when I entered the back yard. He was getting ready to start his truck for work and that's when he noticed me in the yard. he looked at his watch, then at me, and said, 'if you'll hurry, you can make it to you room, your mother is in the bathroom". He gave me that father look as to say, "You own me big time kid".

Like I said, I made the bus, and mom never knew that I had left the county. It was also my 1st time my pops didn't treat me like a kid.

But in years to come there were several occasions that I nearly escaped death at the hands of my father. Not physical, but by the looks he gave me.

How many times have we all heard looks can kill? A withering glance can be much worse than a beating!

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How many times have we all heard looks can kill? A withering glance can be much worse than a beating!

my kidz say it all the time. They know they've messed up when the get the "eyebrow" raise.

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There ARE shades of "Stand by Me"... Stephen King... one of my favorites... Keep going, TD. We're diggin' on it.

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There ARE shades of "Stand by Me"... Stephen King... one of my favorites... Keep going, TD. We're diggin' on it.

"That's what she said"

Forgive me Zee. I am truly sorry for using you bit, but it had to be done brotha. Hope you can understand.

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