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Railroad Life, Then Politics.
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C. H. SALMONS, Editor and Manager.
NIAGARA FALLS, ONT., Dec. 4, 1906. EDITOR JOURNAL: I was much interested in reading the article in the December JOURNAL headed "Postmaster in Two States," as it recalled some experience I have had myself on these same lines, and as it may be interesting to some of the readers of the JOURNAL, I will give a short sketch of my career in railroading and in politics.
I left school when I was 16 years old and started out to earn my own living in 1856. My home was then in Rochester,
A Happy New Year.
Come, Brothers and sisters, together,
And list to the verses I'll sing ; Regardless of cold, wintry weather,
My fancies are out on the wing. I'll soar through the country above you,
Distributing brotherly cheer. And praying Jehovah to love you,
And grant you a happy New Year.
If wishes were dollars, I'd tumble
A million or two at each one,
When off from your doors I'd have gone. I'd solace the weak and the weary,
I'd dry up the ailing one's tear,
And sing out "A Happy New Year."
The cabs I'd have gleefully rolling
All over the steelways with song ;
Saluting you passing along.
A Brother or Sister come near,
To dawn with the coming new year.
We've Brothers who'd requiem masses
Sung o'er them since twelve months ago, Who are sleeping down under the grasses,
And under the frost and the snow; Let us bow down our heads and pray heaven
That each one we laid on his bier, Had all of his errors forgiven,
In star-land this dawning new year.
BRO. W. H. H. WEBSTER, MEMBER OF DIV. 328,
U. S. CONSUL AT NIAGARA FALLS, ONT. N. Y., and through the influence of a friend of my father I found employment in the railroad shops of the New York Central, and my pay was five shillings a day. I was given a hammer, cold chisel and a big file and set to work cleaning the sand and rough spots off new driving wheels and castings. I was soon put in the company's brass foundry and my salary raised to seven shillings a day, then put in the boiler shop at a dollar; but I wanted to get out on the road as a fireman, so I was put in the roundhouse as a wiper. Then I was given an engine
Now men on the mountains, in valleys,
In cities, on wide-spreading plains,
To skillfully handle the trains,
And all things that good men revere,
on a work train to fire. About that time something about politics, I started in to the Central bought two new freight help elect him. The rule in politics at engines, built I think in Detroit. They that time in Rochester was that on elecwere painted green and were called Wol- tion day no electioneering was allowed verines. I was given one to fire for Bill out of your own ward, but I started in Robinson who afterward became the first bright and early to canvass every ward in Grand Chief of the Brotherhood of the the city, and thinking I might find some Footboard.
protests, I took along a couple of friends In the latter part of 1861 I was pro- who like myself were somewhat skilled in moted to an engineer, and as Charley the manly art of self-defense. We had Wilson, who was also a Grand Chief, was several skirmishes during the day with promoted to a passenger engine, I took the friends of the other candidate and the freight engine he gave up. I joined when the sun went down and the polls
NEW YORK CENTRAL LOCOMOTIVE OF 1865, WITH BRO. W. H. H. WEBSTER IN the gaXGWAY. - Picture
taken at Rochester, N. Y. the Brotherhood in the latter part of 1864 closed I had a fine pair of black eyes and as a charter member of Div. 18, when Charley Wilson was defeated. His deCharley Wilson was made Chief Engi- feat was charged up to a speech he had neer.
made in the court house at a labor meetIn 1865 several new McQueen engines ing, in which he denounced several labor were bought at the Schenectady works leaders. Wilson never ran for a public and I was given the one in the picture office after that. (the writer standing in the gangway). In 1872 I thought I would try railroad
About that time Charley Wilson was ing in California, and as I had a brother nominated for mayor of Rochester on the in Sacramento who was an engineer on Republican ticket, and as he had helped the Central Pacific I went there and was me to get promotion and I understood given a ran from Rocklin to Truckee, but after a year on the mountains and through to impress the Governor as being the best 40 miles of snow sheds I came back man for Labor Commissioner of all East and again took an engine on the the candidates, as the board was comCentral, running out of Buffalo, as the posed of one from each political party and shops had been moved there from Roches- one to represent the labor organizations ter.
of the State, so I landed the job and In 1888 General Harrison was elected when my term of three years expired President, and my family had known the Roosevelt was Governor. I had been a Harrison family before and at the time I delegate to the convention that nomwas born and named me after his grand- inated him and had recommended his father. I thought with some backing I nomination and voted for him, and he might get a consular appointment. P. promptly reappointed me for another M. Arthur was Grand Chief at that time term. Before my second term had exand I wrote him requesting a letter to the pired Roosevelt had become President, President telling him what I wanted, and as I had
tired of the numerand he sent me the letter and a good one ous strikes which I was continually it was. I took it to Chauncey M. Depew looking after (but with every success) and asked him for one. He read Brother and hearing that the consulate at Niagara Arthur's letter and said, “Go to my Falls was vacant I applied to him for the stenographer and dictate a letter to the post and he gave it to me, remarking at President, and I don't care how strong the time that he was glad to have me you make it, I will sign it." I took the back home. I was just in time to get two letters and went to Washington, home as the consular reform bill that hunted up Major John M. Farquhar, the went into effect July 1st of this year shuts member of Congress from my district, out all direct appointments to the conand went over to the White House.
sular service. One now desiring to enter Harrison received me very cordially the service must be able to speak one lanand said the engineers were his friends guage other than the English and must and had helped to elect him, that he had be under 50 and over 21 years of age, and seen them marching in a procession in after passing a strong civil service examIndianapolis, which
Harrison's ination, begin as a clerk or deputy and home, carrying a locomotive made ont wait for promotion; and here my story of flowers and that he was only too glad ends. After a long, stormy and tempesto give them some recognition, that I tuous career I am resting quietly in my could take my pick of the places in Can- Indian summer of life. ada; and I selected Chatham, a fine
Fraternally yours, Canadian city of about 13,000 inhabi
W. H. H. WEBSTER, Div. 328. tants. I led a gentleman's life for four years, but in 1892 Grover Cleveland was
The Pool. elected President and my job soon vanished into thin air, as Cleveland appointed It is a true saying "There are two sides a politician of Buffalo to succeed me, and to every question. This fact is someI went to Buffalo and Depew put me back times lost sight of and we harp on the on the road as a passenger conductor. one side until the possibility of there
I held that job for a year and in the being anything to say in opposition seems elections that fall Levi P. Morton was out of the question. This is aptly illuselected Governor of New York State and trated in the current criticisms one hears a change would be made in the members and sees, and that we have been hearing of the State Board of Arbitration, which and seeing for some years regarding the carried with it a salary of $3,000 a year pool system of running engines. and expenses; and again when I asked No one will have the hardihood to deny for it Grand Chief Arthur and Chauncey that in its practical operation, if report is Depew gave me their backing. I seemed reliable, it has not been a howling success,
but the theory is right just the same, and engine, and always manages to keep one when a theory is sound its practical appli- if given half a chance; but when denied cation needs but a certain degree of the half chance she keeps herself like the refinement of practice, backed up by a rest of them to which men are regularly liberal amount of earnest effort, to insure assigned, yet seldom run, but he is led to success. These latter essentials have as believe, or at least to appear to believe à rule been woefully lacking, hence the that, bad as the power is under the worst bad repute into which the pool had fallen. system that could possibly be devised, it Why it should fail is not at all answered would be even worse under the pool. So by current criticism of its faults where it with the majority arrayed against it, had been tried.
the old way continues in spite of its When the pool is mentioned the cry preponderance of faults. goes up, “Who will keep up the power?" In the early days, when each system An outsider would be led to believe that was burdened with many types of engines, the engineers worked with hammer and equipped with an endless variety of chisel and wrench from morning till means of water supply that, in many night and then till morning again “keep- cases, no one but the regular man could ing up the power.” Of course, they do a operate successfully, the pool was a little now and then in these slip-shod rather unwieldy proposition and, no times with hammer and chisel, but when doubt, it suffers yet to some extent from the regular man makes but one trip a the reputation it gained in those days; week, or a month on his "regular" but today these objections cannot be engine, the opportunity to keep her up weighed against it and why it should fail with the hammer and chisel even is under the standard conditions that predenied. Keeping up engines under such vail on most railroads today is indeed a conditions is, to say the least, an amusing problem that seems to permit of no other affair. It is nothing short of a joke to ,answer from the other side but-“We hear some slouch of a fellow who never want it to fail." Ther can be no other ran a good engine of his own keeping, true answer. There is nothing connected throw up his hands with an air of un- with the keeping up of power that cannot utterable disgust at mention of the word be done under the pool system as good pool and exclaim, “Who in would and even better than it can be done under keep up the power?"-one of those fellows the regular engine plan. We are prewho was so accustomed to having a sented with figures showing cost of operarattling, pounding, blowing engine that tion under both systems by those in opthose jars and shocks and blows became position to the pool but not one good, by custom necessary to his very exist- sound, reasonable argument is offered to ence, so much so that when he retired to show the way of those figures; and even rest after each trip his wife had to pound if the figures are right, and even admitthe head of the bed with a potato masher ting all that is claimed by the opposition, to lull him to sleep.
that is but the one side of the question. Yes, it is certainly amusing to hear that There is another, a very important side, kind of fellow decry the pool, and he no that seems to be usually ignored in disdoubt believes that if the care of the cussing this matter. It is the regularity engine was taken from him, that par- of hours of work and of rest that the pool ticular engine of “his" would go to the affords. If the wrecks due to overwork dogs, wherever that is; and judging by of men trying to make living wages my own personal experience with power following a regular engine could be in charge of that type of runn the figured into the account of economy of "dogs" must be about the "tuffest place the two systems, then you will agree that ever."
the pool would have the best of the arguThere is another decidedly different ment. But the question of economy type of engineer who really loves a good aside, are not the health and the comfort
of the engine crews worthy of consideration? It may not be amiss to say right here that if a little more of the money and effort expended by the men through their committees were used for the purpose of securing better working conditions and little less importance attached to the wage rate per day, they would have more that goes to make life worth living and worth working for than has been gained with the rate per day always the paramount issue. Not that the matter of compensation has been overdone but rather that the matter of fair and reasonable working conditions has been overlooked or compromised for the paltry. cents of increase of daily wage. Money does not compensate fully for some other things that are lacking, and the man who reaches his destination after a 20 hour trip, often under the most trying conditions, will bear me out in this statement-just at the time of his arrival, at least. Later his voice may be heard favoring an increase of pay or an increase in the supply of valve oil, but he still grinds away at his 20 hour trips, thank.. ing his stars the division is not twice as long or the tonnage twice as heavy.
The writer does not believe that the pool, however perfectly maintained, will cure all the evils the modern engineman is afflicted with, but it is one of the steps in the right direction and those who pretend otherwise are either narrowsighted or pretending only.
There is one thing certain: the signs of the times point to an early and general adoption of the pool throughout this country, and it requires no keen insight into the future to see that the time is not far distant when we who are even now old in the service will look back and wonder why it was so long delayed.
Come, ye working men be honest,
'Tis no time to faint or reel, But, with firm determination,
Put your shoulders to the wheel. In the coming Labour struggle,
Led by men, tried, sound, and true,
Causing blessings to accrue.
Though the fighting some ne'er feel,
Put their shoulders to the wheel. Shame on those, I say, who never,
In the battle for the right, Lista hand to help a brother
who needs succour in the fight; Selfish motives now should perish
Smitten by this great appealStand to arms, ye baud of toilers
houlders to the wheel. Let this message to the workers
In all grades upon the line, Bear with it a note of freedom,
Cause a ray of hope to shine ;
We a blow can surely deal,
With our shoulders to the wheel. 'Tis more leisure, mo`e enjoyment
For our minds and bodies too,
For the many, not the few;
When each man this truth shall feel,
With his shoulder at the wheel. 'Tis a chance to share the profits
That our toiling bodies make, 'Tis a chance to live like others,
who the dividends but take; For these things we've long been asking
'Tis the toiler's right, we feel, And they'll come when all are striving With their shoulder at the wheel.
– The London Railway Review.
Pension Indigent List-lodemnity lo
FOND DU LAC, Wis., Dec. 12, 1905. EDITOR JOURNAL: Again I come for. ward to wish one and all of our members a happy and prosperous New Year and with your kind indulgence I would like to say a few words in answer to my dear friend C. B. Nixon. While at Memphis I was in close communication with the delegate from Div. 109, Brother Devinney. The pension plan, as well as the indemnity insurance, received my heartiest support as a delegate. I believe we can provide for our old members in the way of a monthly pension as well as for the unfortunate, either through sickness or