: Jill S. Flateland
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
: 21.72 MB
Chugs and Hugs captures the true story of my father, a determined man who grew up in rural Wisconsin during the depression and World War II. At the age of sixteen, Lyle C. Williams became the patriarch of the family when his father died from a ruptured appendix during the days before antibiotics. Lyle assumed his father's role as a railroad telegrapher during the fascinating era of steam engines. He handed over his entire meager paycheck to his widowed mother, yet he helped put his three sisters through college. He joined the Soo Line Railroad in 1942 and married the love of his life in 1948. The couple then moved to Minnesota. Together, they raised a family of five while living above the railroad depot. Already like the sounds of this hard working young man and want to read more. This is a story related through the eyes of a child growing up alongside the tracks, as it was common at the time for the agents' families to live in an apartment above the station, or 'depot' as it was known. Having grown up with trains passing only 12 feet from my bedroom window, a flood of memories rush through me every time I hear a whistle blow, or the clickity-clack of the steel wheels gliding over the tracks. I've painted a colorful portrait of life where family events are intricately interwoven with daily railroad activities. My earliest memories are of the mighty steam engine chugging through town with a cadence like a heartbeat, their pistons clanking a steady rhythm. Coal dust filled the air and cinders flew into one's eyes. I'll never forget the smell of coal mixed with oil and hot metal. There are many stories of the rural townsfolk, their life intrinsically wound around the Soo Line. The depot was the hub of city life. Nearly everyone passed by it daily. They shipped their grain, pulpwood, dry goods, and cattle via rail. Passenger trains ran twice a day and carried the mail faster than the Pony Express ever had. Enjoy a journey through the past. Hear stories about train wrecks, flooded out tracks, and harrowing tales about the rails. See how the Soo Line put small towns such as Palisade, Clearbrook, and Oklee, Minnesota, on the map.