By Norris Chambers

            In 1935 I graduated from good old Cross Cut high school and immediately left for Fort Worth to continue my education.  I had been awarded a lifetime scholarship from a business college and they had promised to find part-time employment to help me survive in the city. They did their part and I began a learning experience that would last for a lifetime.

            After several months of working at various jobs and finishing several classes in school I found that I had time to enroll in an advertising class in Fort Worth Technical High School.  At that time there were many classes available for the public at night and at no cost. I enrolled in an advertising class and in a few days I felt like I was becoming an advertiser.

            Everything was great with the classes but there was a slight aggravation connected with transportation. A room mate and I resided in a small room in an old dwelling a considerable distance out west on Texas Street. To reach the school it was necessary to walk several blocks east to an underpass that would allow me to get under the many railroad tracks that separated the city from the south side. It took longer to walk to and from the school than the class lasted and I felt like that was too far for a farm kid to walk just for one class.

            I decided to see about cutting across the railroad yard. Such a shortcut would save a lot of walking and it shouldn’t be hard to dodge any trains. All that I had seen were moving slow or standing still. One evening I took my notebook and started the trip. There wasn’t a fence so it wasn’t hard to begin.

            A train was chugging in from the west but it was a slow one and I had no trouble scrambling across the track before it got close enough to be a problem. After crossing a couple of empty tracks I found a long line of parked boxcars blocking my way. I surveyed the situation and decided that there were three ways to get across. I could crawl under them, climb through the string where one car was joined to another or walk around the whole string. Since my purpose was to shorten my walk I quickly ruled out going around. It appeared that climbing over the hitch between two cars was the easier way to get on the other side.  

            As I was preparing to climb over the hitch someone jumped out of a partially open door on the side of the car on my right. I turned to look him over and I saw a young fellow about my age. He had red hair and a few freckles on his face. He was dressed in clean coveralls and he looked like a nice fellow. He gave me a friendly “Howdy!” I returned the greeting and he began talking.

            “Which way you heading?” he asked, and continued, “I’m heading west and just hiding here waiting for a freight going that way.”

            “I was just walking through the yard to get to the south side.” I told him. “I’m not heading anywhere.”  I politely asked him where he was from. He told me that he had come from Fayetteville in Tennessee and was going to California to find a job. I told him a little bit about my circumstances, wished him good luck and started to continue my journey. Suddenly I heard a rough sounding voice shouting, “Hey, you bums!” A big mean looking man was coming toward us. He held a heavy looking club in his hand and he had a pistol hanging from his right hip. Before I had time to decide what to do my new acquaintance rolled under the freight car and started running down the other side of the track. I just stood and waited for the rough looking man to approach.

            “What you scum doing here?” he inquired. “Trying to get a free ride in a car?” He approached and waved the big club in my face. “You get right back where you came from – I mean out of the freight yard right now! I’ll bust this club over your worthless head!” I tried to explain to him that I was just going across to the other side to keep from making a long walk around. He wasn’t sympathetic at all and started spouting some very abusive language at me.

            I saw that an argument would be useless so I made a hasty retreat under the car and back toward Texas Street. I was a little late for my class that evening but I had learned something that I hadn’t been taught in school. Don’t argue with a rail-yard bull!

            After a little thinking and analyzing I did solve the problem. I moved from Texas Street to South Jennings (the other side of the tracks) and enjoyed a nice short walk to school!

            Was this encounter fun? You can’t find fun everywhere, but you can move!