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From: "Dad" wsmith5957 AT hotmail DOT com
Date: Fri, 7 Oct 2005 20:19:01 -0400
Subject: 'Shakey' Eddie Kane - ERIE engineer
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Mr. Kane (shown here walking away from the locomotive) was a yard engineer on the ERIE side in Binghamton. I first met him when I was called as fireman on the 11 to 7 uptown erie yard job. I reported a little before 11pm, introduced myself, and asked if he wanted me to run right away or wait a while. Eddie replied that 'we'll see how it goes'. I checked over the engine & settled into the fireman's seat & must have dozed off. I woke to a terrific CRASH & almost landed on the floor. We had hold of 4 or 5 cars & had coupled onto a full track at much better than a brisk walk. Mr. Kane didn't bat an eyelash but sat like a stone on the other side of the cab - no remarks about bad hand signals or whatever. In about 15 minutes another coupling that registered 8 on the Richter earthquake scale. A few minutes later, the drill foreman came up on the engine & said very casually "Why don't you let the kid run now, Eddie?"
"OK"., & Mr. Kane was out of the engineer's seat & as he came on my side of the cab I detected a strong odor of whiskey. I got up and began running while Eddie sank into a deep, alcohol-induced doze. After a few hours of steady work, I was getting tired but was unable to arouse 'Shakey' except for a few incoherent mumbles so I wound up doing all the work that night. I wound up working this job for several weeks and it was the same every night - Eddie would pass out and I'd have to run the engine all night. Once or twice I shook him awake and made him work but the poor switchmen were terrified that he'd move when they were making up an air coupling or he'd crash into a cut of cars. They'd get on the engine and beg me to run & let him sleep.
After a few weeks, I decided to walk across to the passenger station and buy him a large container of black coffee. I thought he'd sober up. He just got worse. What was wrong??? At 4am I got him another cup and it still didn't help. Finally, at 5am, Eddie told me "I'll buy you a coffee, Walt". Off he went across the tracks and I was left in the engineer's seat looking down at Eddie's big old leather grip.
I reached inside and feeling around in the darkness felt a large bottle with small glass squares on the sides. It was a fifth of GUCKENHEIMER's whiskey. The mystery was solved!! No matter how many coffees I bought him,he'd dilute them with a good slug of Gukenheimers and be worse than ever.
I walked across the cab & put the bottle in my grip & zipped it shut. When Eddie returned, I went on the fireman's side to drink the coffee and watch the fun. Eddie was running the engine and leaning back and feeling around in his grip - shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. Finally "Hey, Walter, was anybody on the engine while I was gone?". I told him 'Yes, that Mr. clancy (trainmaster) & some othe official were here for a while' but I was busy running the engine.' No further questions and we finished up in pretty good shape for a change.
One of the switchmen told me that none of the officials wanted to know about this little problem and that Eddie finished up one morning, got off the engine, and staggered into a telephone pole then bumped into the wall of Chenango Street viaduct and slid down until he was sitting in the ballast. Ed Clancy & Sammy Miller were standing on the station platform and just looked the other way. It's like "If I dont SEE the problem, it doesn't exist.