Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Crew Call - September 22, 1948

One of my favorite parts of setting up an operating session is doing the Crew Call. This isn't merely an email to my regular operators notifying them of an upcoming session - it's another opportunity for realism, another opportunity to help them feel like they're actually operating a railroad in the late 1940s. And the research required to create such a time machine is certainly more fun than filling out all those switchlists....
To: Operating Crews
Lower Connecticut River Valley Region,
New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad
Providence Division Extra #1 (PDX-1, Shore Line Local)
Providence Division Extra #2 (PDX-2, Haddam Local)
Hartford Division Extra #7 (HDX-7, Valley Local)
Hartford Division Extra #12 (HDX-12, Air Line Local)

From: Superintendent of Operations

RE: Detail of Operations - September 22, 1948

To Whom It May Concern:

You have been assigned to work on one of four local freight extras, but please note - our transition to diesel motive power is almost complete; consequently, only one local remains steam-powered. Please review the information below to gain an understanding of what to expect during your assignment:
  • September 22, 1948 is a Wednesday and Harry Truman is the president, currently campaigning for re-election on a whistle-stop tour throughout the western US. The local forecast calls for chilly temperatures in the morning (low 40s), but it'll warm up in the afternoon (around 68 degrees). Should be a nice, sunny, dry day - much nicer than it was 10 years ago. September 21st is the 10 year anniversary of the Great New England Hurricane (a.k.a. The Long Island Express) that devastated our Railroad. But thanks to all your hard work and effort, we survived and even made it through the recent war, stronger than ever.
  • The most popular song of the day is "Twelfth Street Rag" by Pee Wee Hunt and His Orchestra. I much preferred Al Trace's "You Call Everybody Darlin'" that was #1 last month, but even so none of the music today compares to what we heard during the war. Of course, many of those songs bring back bittersweet memories, so maybe we're all just trying to forget.
  • The cost of living keeps going up: The average cost of a new house has risen to $7,700 - reflecting the persistent housing shortage - but gas is still only 16c per gallon, and cars cost a little less - about $1,250, on average. Average wages are stagnant though - at less than $3,000/yr you're not making any more cabbage than you did last year.
  • In sports, the first Olympic games since before the war, ended last month, the same month Ben Hogan won the PGA Championship. The Cleveland Indians and Boston Braves will be in the World Series, but we're all still mourning the passing of Babe Ruth a few weeks ago. Only 53, he was far too young to leave us.
  • Given last month's sports events, you may have missed Whittaker Chambers accusing Alger Hiss of being a communist. But if you're lucky enough to have a television (and as a railroad employee, you probably don't), you would have been able to see the HUAC's first televised congressional hearing and the Chambers/Hiss confrontation.
  • If you'd rather not think of Reds under the bed, and have time to catch a movie this weekend, Sorry, Wrong Number (starring Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster) premiered on September 1st. If you hurry though, you may still be able to catch Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (Cary Grant, Myrna Loy) or even Key Largo (Bogie & Bacall).
As usual, you can expect to receive your paperwork (Clearance Card, Orders, and Wheel Report) when you report for duty, but here's a brief description of what you can expect when you arrive: 
  • PDX-1 (The Shoreline Local) will have DEY-1b (HH660) #0924 for power and will depart Cedar Hill for New London with 9 cars. It'll do most of its switching in Saybrook and will use Track 5 to transfer cars destined for up-river consignees to PDX-2 (The Haddam Local).
  • PDX-2 (The Haddam Local) will have DEY-5 (S-2) #0615 for power and will depart New London for Cedar Hill with 13 cars for towns along the way. It will also receive cars from PDX-1 on Track 5 in Saybrook and run up-river through the towns of Essex and Deep River to East Haddam.
  • HDX-7 (The Valley Local) will have K-1b (2-6-0) #278 for power and will depart Hartford for Middletown & return. It'll be a heavy day with 18 cars for consignees along the way. Since it's Wednesday, this train won't be going down-river, but may leave Haddam-bound cars in Middletown for forwarding the next day.
  • HDX-12 (The Air Line Local) will be debuting newly-shopped DERS-2b (RS-2) #0510 for power and will depart Cedar Hill for Middletown with 14 cars for local industries and interchange with HDX-7 in Middletown. This train will also do all the switching in Middletown.
Of course, the crews of each of these trains will report to the agent of each town on their route for any additional car movements which may be required - and the Providence Division Extras must receive permission from the Dispatcher or Tower Operator, as the case may be, in order to occupy main track between Cedar Hill Yard and New London. Finally, be sure to review the latest Bulletin Order and sign the Employee Register when you arrive, or else you may forfeit your pay for the day.

C.R. Adams

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