Friday, June 19, 2009

Firing Line Cars



Harry Buzzell was my paternal grandfather's brother who died in France in World War I in 1918. His mother saved 60 letters from Harry in three small stationery boxes that were found in a closet many years after her death. ( A daughter-in-law was the last relative to live in the Buzzell home in Colby Siding, Maine before it was sold out of the family a few years ago.) I was fortunate to be given the letters in 2001 and transcribed all of them. I tried to follow the original spellings, grammar, and text of the letters as Harry wrote them.

In the following letter, "firing line cars" refers to the practice of hiring a worker to accompany a wood stove that was put in each railroad car to keep the potatoes from freezing on the way to market. My great-uncle Harry was hired to move from car to car to keep the fire going. It was a dangerous job with the possibility of falling off the moving train while moving from one car to the next.

    Springfield Mass
    Nov 22, 1914
Dear Mother, Just a line to let you know I am sory to leave you so far away but I thought it is best for me to be hear or I would not have don it. Don't think A H Phillips courel [corralled?] me he did not he thought you would blame him for me not cumming back, he wants me just the same but I don't want eny hard feeling.
I am well and happy wishing you all the same I go to work tomorrow don't know as yet ware but expect it will be in the holsale [wholesale] first.
Don't worey about me I've got a good neat little room in the same house with Mr Bradbery cousins to Phillips he looks out for me.
How is all the kids is buster still traning his calf. Whare are you going to spend thanksgiving this year. I wrote a card to Hanah yesterday to let them know I am near to them expect to go and see them soon. I did not like firing line cars . I got cold but is all gorn now I was about sick when I reached hear the dust and smoke made me sick one night.
Mr. Bradbery and I are going over to Mr Phillipps this afternoon, Mr Bradbery runs a small store for Phillips I was with him all day yesterday that is all but a little while.
He seams real nice I like him he watches me like a cat watches a mouse when we are on the street, he seams to think a feller like me cant look out for himself but I's no kid no never again. Give my best wishes to all for a bright happy thanksgiving Write soon for I expect to be for sum hear for a while at least cant think of eny thing but of that train wrect that was arful it faily made me sick when we went past thirtywone cars piled up 9 cars of spuds they were driving about 60 miles an hour when a third of a whele droped out No train men hurt but they thought thers was to or three bows [hoboes] on. They dident know when we went by if they were in the wreck or not they hadent found them My adress is. Springfield mass
32 holyoke St
With love and all best wishes your
loving son Harry Buzzell