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Saturday, February 2, 2013

LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI Chapter 17


Dressed in Finery
courtesy photobucket.com
At daybreak all were up and dressed. The women were dressed in some fine dresses that Louise gave them and the men had clothes the engineers wore.

Louise made a big pot of oatmeal, and as soon as they finished eating, they were off.

Lee hugged and thanked Louise for she had saved him once again.  He told her he didn't know if he would ever see her again but he loved her like a mama, and would never forget her, and then he was gone.

They waited until the train rolled in and people started to board her.  Lee told the women to mix in with the crowd, and not to sit together until they were a few hours away from the station.  Meanwhile he and Sam climbed into the cab.  The engineer and the fireman knew they were going to ride with them and assist.

After four hours Lee took over and gave the engineer a rest.  Sam had been helping the fireman with his tasks, and at the end of the first day they pulled into a station and changed engineers.  Lee and Sam put on suits Louise had given them, and joined the women in the diner for supper.

They decided it would be best if they separated into two couples, Sam with his wife Claire, and Lee with Odette.

For the next three days they traveled like this.  Lee met some of the men he had worked with when building the railroad, and introduced Odette as his wife.   Although he felt strange doing this, she told him, “This is the way it is going to be in the future so you better get used to it.”

As they approached Cheyenne they had seen some of the plains Indians and a few Buffalo still grazing on the prairie.

Arriving at Cheyenne there would be a three hour lay over, so it gave them time to go to the bathhouse and clean up, for they were pretty dusty by this time.   

After changing engines they were ready to continue.  Vendors were at the station selling things like fruit, nuts and sweet breads.  Lee stocked up on some of the fruit and delicacies to have something for them to munch on.

The train pulled out of Cheyenne and they were on their way again.  In three days they would be in Sacramento, and were looking forward to finishing their trip as it had been very tiring.

Lee had never been this far west and he found it very interesting especially when they came to the Sierras.  Here they had to hook up extra engines to climb over the hump.
 
He had been told about this but it was exciting to see.

The engineer allowed Lee to ride in the lead engine since he still was technically an employee of the railroad.  Once over the top it was all downhill from there.  

When they stopped at a small station they began removing a couple of the engines that were no longer needed.  

Returning to where Odette was seated in the passenger car, Lee told her how exciting it was to be in the front engine and look back as they went through the tunnels.

Sam told Lee he didn't have much money, for they had to leave everything behind and their savings had been in confederate money which was worthless.   
 
Lee told him not to worry, because he had plenty of cash for now, but they would need to consider getting jobs as soon as they reached Oakland.

The first thing Lee did when they arrived in Oakland was to check in at the railroad main office where he gave them his work history of his last few years.

He told them he was moving here, and wanted to continue working for the railroad.  
 
After they verified his work information they offered him a supervisory position.

They said it would require some travel, but he wouldn't be in the engine cab any more.
 
He would be stationed in Oakland where they were going to ferry the trains over to San Francisco.

They expected his experience with both ferries and trains would be invaluable.   
 
To be Continued    
 
  

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