The Worst, Then Best Day
I have been a fan of the Monon since I was 5 years old and living in Broad Ripple. I’m now 40 and miss it all, including the people I knew when I was living there.
Train #90 would pass our house and wake me every night around 10:15. I would see the train return in the morning.
In later years, my dad would take me to Belt Junction on Sundays to see the yard operations.
At age 9, I was very upset when we moved away, but on an exploratory walk through the neighborhood, I discovered that our new house was three blocks from the tracks just south of 106th Street, between Nora and Carmel.
By this time, the #91 and #90 schedule had changed and they both ran in daylight. I could hear #91’s whistle in Carmel and had plenty of time for me and my dog to run down to my favorite viewing spot where the train crews got use to seeing me.
One of the saddest days of my life occurred when I went down to my spot with my dog to see #91 pass. Not paying attention the dog darted too close to the train and was killed.
Two days later, my dad took me to the yard to see #91 turn into #90 for the return trip. This turned out to be one of the best days of my life!
The engineer recognized me and knew it was my dog he had hit two days earlier. He said he was sorry and asked if I would like a ride home. At first I didn’t know what he meant, but my dad knew. That was the first of many rides I had on the Monon. The engineer, I learned was Dick Cantwell. I became good friends with him and with fireman Jack Madlung.
Dick left the Northern Division in 1973 and I never saw him again. Eventually I came to know all the Northern Division engineers and trainmen by name. For me, it was the people who made train watching on the Monon fun.
To any Northern Division men who read this, a big “hello” for the boy who turned teenager, married and became a family man.
By Todd Andrews, as written in The Hoosier Line, Volume 22, Number 1
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