Dedicated to Engineer John Hoolihan, Pittsburg and Lake Erie Railroad, Pittsburg, Pa.
WALL, John, I read your poetry,
And laughed till I nearly cried,
Seein' how you became an engineer,
And got on the right hand side.
It made me think of the days gone by,
When I wuz one of you fellers, too,
What used to run an old machine,
And go tootin' the country through.
But the engine that I had then, John,
Wuz far from a "Nancy Hanks;"
She wuz old and worn and loggy,
And jist chuck full of pranks;
And she wuz wonderfully got up, John,
Full of bolts and valves and knobs,
And the boiler wouldn't hold water;
Gosh, it wouldn't hold cobs.
But I wuz younger then, John,
And I didn't care a cuss;
So I'd pull the throttle open
And jist let her wheeze and fuss.
The road that I wuz a-runnin' on
Wuz out in the woolly west;
Two streaks of rust and the right of way
Wuz puttin' it at its best.
So we sort of plugged along, John.
And didn't put on any frills,
Never thought of doin' anything
But doublin' all the hills.
I tell you those were rocky times,
And we hadn't no air brake;
And fifteen miles an hour, John,
Wuz durn good time to make.
And thar wuz as good a lot of boys
As you could meet with anywhere;
Rough and ready open up,
And always on the square.
And I'd like to see them all again,
And grasp each honest hand;
But some of them, like me, have quit,
Some have gone to another land.
I have changed somewhat since then, John,
Jist a little more steady grown;
But I often think of my railroad days
As the happiest ones I've known.
And, John, I often watch the train.
As they go whizzing by;
As I think of Bill, or Jim, or Jack,
Thar's a tear comes in my eye.
Perhaps you'd like to know, John,
Just why I quit the rail,
And as some feller one time sed,
"Thereby hangs a tale."
I wuz goin' along one night, John,
At a purty lively rate,
The old machine a-doin' her best,
And me forty minutes late,
When all at once there came a crash,
I felt the old track yield,
And fireman, machine and I
Went into a farmer's field.
There's little more to say, John,
They laid me up for repairs,
But my fireman, poor fellow,
Hadn't time to say his prayers.
So now you have my story, John;
Still, you don't know how it feels
To know you've got to plug around
On a couple of flat wheels.
But it doesn't bother me, John,
Gosh, not fer a minnit;
I'm as happy as the day is long,
And feel jist strictly in it.
But sometimes I like to meet the boys,
And talk them days all over,
And I feel as gay and chipper
As a calf in a field of clover
But the happiest days I've known, John,
The ones that to me see best,
Wuz when I run an old machine
Way out in the woolly west.
Glory—Gittin' killed and not gittin' paid fer it.
—Punkin Centre Philosophy.