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The Agent At Greencastle


  When I first began working for the Monon between school years, I also occasionally worked for the railroad during holidays
  and even weekends. On one Christmas vacation I worked for the agent at Greencastle, Art Shipman.

  Art would always take a weeks vacation at Christmastime so he wouldn't be swamped when the students got out of college for
  Christmas break. They would flock to the depot to catch the Monon's daily passenger train which ran North to Chicago.
  Then, to make a few extra dollars, Art would call the chief dispatcher to ask if he could come in(on overtime) and assist his
  relief agent in getting the kids loaded on the train.

When I went there to work, he told me how busy it was the day the students came to board the passenger train and asked me if I wanted some assistance. I had only sold a few tickets in my short time with the railroad and was glad for any help. So, when that fateful day arrived, Art showed up, explaining that as soon as one student found out he could check his luggage for a small fee, everyone else would want to do so also. Checking baggage amounted to putting a tag on the baggage with a stub for the passenger and collecting a small fee. We then loaded the luggage on a baggage car on the train rather than the student carrying it onto the coach.

About an hour before the train was scheduled the students began arriving. The first dozen or so just wanted tickets, then sure enough, one student asked to check his baggage. Of course, after that, each and every one else wanted to check his baggage also. It was wild! There must have been 200 or students in line. Art was selling tickets and I was handling the baggage checks. Art was collecting money for the tickets and throwing it in the general direction of the cash drawer. And I was trying to get around Art to get the baggage check money in the drawer. Money was flying around like confetti at a ticker tape parade! Five dollar bills were wafting in the air, coins were rolling on the floor under tables and chairs. Anything hitting the cash drawer was by divine providence. I was never so glad to see the train pull into the station. We sold the last tickets just as the train arrived. We got the baggage loaded onto the baggage car and the conductor and trainmen got the kids loaded onto the coaches and the train pulled out of town.

Then came the fun! Time to balance the books. Both Art and I were on our knees, raking money off the floor and putting into the cash drawer. I knew we would be several dollars short and would have to fork over money from my pockets to balance the books. But miraculously, we came out to the PENNY!

And I hope Art enjoyed the rest of his weeks vacation.

By Rick Dreistadt


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