To help pay for college my dad got me a summer job with the roads and grounds dept out at the 102nd FIW on Otis. After my first summer I was “promoted” to railroad crew. The whole reason for railroad was coal. The power plant ran on it and it came in by freight train. We fixed the tracks and picked up the full coal cars and dropped off the empty. I had to grab a shovel get in a one piece jump suit, wear a paper mask and sit in the cars as the coal poured out the bottom of the hopper like an hourglass measuring my summer days disappearing. After they were empty we brought them back to Falmouth where they were picked up. One morning my fellow summer coworker and I asked the boss if we could ride ahead on the empty cars instead of in the engine to take them back to the Falmouth line. (The engine pushed the empty cars to Falmouth and pulled the full ones.) the front empty cars clacked and rocked but it was quiet so far from the engine. On this early summer morning it was cool but the day was going to be sunny and hot. I watched from up high the trees and buildings pass by to the rhythm of the rails. As we approached the stables near the golf course the horses heard our cars and raced across their field towards the noise. They stood with their heads over the fence breathing steam watching us pass. I remember surprise at how fast they ran and how they were curious and my naive reaction to their obvious love of running without being commanded by a human.
That was a day.