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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ralph Waldo Strickland, April 18, 1980. Interview H-0180. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Functioning of the railroad yards

As a railroad man, Strickland was particularly proud of his watch, and he explained why having a good timepiece was an essential part of working around the trains. After the end of this section, he explains some of what has changed since he was in the yards.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ralph Waldo Strickland, April 18, 1980. Interview H-0180. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

LU ANN JONES:
What kinds of things did you learn there?
RALPH W. STRICKLAND:
You got to learn all those operating rules.
LU ANN JONES:
What are some of them?
RALPH W. STRICKLAND:
Over on this subdivision, we operated under manual block rules. You had an operator from the station. We had the rule book, and we had a standard watch. I've had this since I've been working. That's a 992, twenty-one jewel Hamilton, adjusted to five positions. I've had that watch since the day I started. My brother had this watch and he gave it to me when I first started. I've had it fifty three years. That watch right there, I know it's fifty-three years, and it might be a little older than that. I don't know just when he got it. My brother Paul there in Hamlet give it to me when I first started over here March 1, 1927. I had that watch ever since. I've had it cleaned. You have to have it cleaned every two years. That National Time Service, the railroad company require you to clean it every two years. I broke the crystal on it maybe four or five times, and I've had it cleaned a number of times. But it's a good one and it keeps good time.
LU ANN JONES:
What kind of watch is that?
RALPH W. STRICKLAND:
It's a 992, twenty-one jewel Hamilton with a Montgomery dial, adjusted to five positions.
LU ANN JONES:
What does that mean, "adjusted to five positions?"
RALPH W. STRICKLAND:
The heat, magnetism, they demagnetized your watch. It'll lose time, this heat and cold weather. They'll gain and lose time or that variation, but it's adjusted to take care of that, that position.
LU ANN JONES:
Did everybody have one of those watches?
RALPH W. STRICKLAND:
All the men in the train service required. That's one thing you had to have. They wouldn't accept anything but a sixteen size, twenty-one jewel. Railroad company wouldn't accept anything less than a twenty-one jewel. You could either Elgin or Illinois. I had a Hamilton. That Hamilton is very common, but there's several standard watches that they would accept. But they wouldn't accept just any kind of watch, not in train service. You was in train service, you had a rule book and time card and all that stuff.
LU ANN JONES:
So everything had to be real precise and on time?
RALPH W. STRICKLAND:
That's right, be precise, especially on that time element.