Clipped From The Morning Herald

wilmagossard Member Photo

Clipped by wilmagossard

 - People He's been workin* on the railroad By...
People He's been workin* on the railroad By MAURY MACHT William M: Bretvbaker Jr. Is one railroad man who says he's glad the diesels replaced steam locomotives. As a man who has spent his Hie around railroad yards and his adult life working as a locomotive mechanic and supervisor, he should know. "I'm one person who never missed the steam locomotive," he says. "It was dirty work, hard work. You'd wear new overalls to work and by dinnertime it looked like you had 'em on for six months." For the past 10 years, Brewbaker has been general foreman of the locomotive shops and car foreman for the Chessie system in Hagerstown. C h e s s i e a b s o r b e d t h e W e s t e r n Maryland line several years ago. It*s Brewbaker's job to see that all the engines and railroad cars in Hagerstown are in good working order, It's a big job, with many responsibilities, stemming from the large surroundings of the round house located between Burhans Boulevard and W. Washington Street in the city's west end, Brewbaker, 54, is a tall, husky man, not afraid to voice opinions and full of railroad yarns and codes to live by. What he's learned in 36 years working for the railroad, he says, in great part had been passed to him by his father, William M. Brewbaker Sr., whom he says is "the best railroad man I ever saw." The senior Brewbaker worked locally for the railroads for 42 years before retiring in 1965. He since has been a Judge of (he Orphans Court. For years he held the general foreman's job the son now holds. The round house was built to con- lain the gigantic 150,000 pound diesel engines which the mechanics repair. The men, in work boots, hard hais and engineer coveralls, are dwarfed by'the elephantine machines. Brew-baker says (he work is hazardous and highly specialized. The men..- have to be constanlly alert for moving locomotives. They have to be aware of the massive electric voltage In the diesel engines. A good railroad mechanic, Brewbaker says, lakes years to develop. At least four years of apprenticeship and then four years for a man to be "on bis own" are required before he becomes master at his craft. Mechanics live by the thought, "That it just takes a little longer to do the impossible," he says. Most of the mechanics have worked at Hie yards for many years, They seem to bear out his adage that "When you get a drink of Western Maryland water, you're destined to die there." Nevertheless, over the years Brewbaker has seen Ihe work force at Western M a r y l a n d drop from 800 employes in the locomotive and car shops to 200 employes. The loss has had some effect on employe morale, he says. "When I lirst came, everybody worked like a family. We all felt no railroad could do well as Ihe Western anything as Maryland." The decline of the railroad's Influence has been felt in Brcwbaker's family. Ills son won't continue Ihe tradition of working In the yards. And his three daughters from 25 years of marriage lo Anna Margaret Stoner Brewbaker aren't likely to follow their father. When he steps down from Ihe railroads, Brewbaker says he'll be leaving more than a job. "I grew up on railroad men's laps. I brought my father his lunch to Ihe yard when I was 12. Everything revolved around the railroad. 1 didn't even know there were other Industries. "I come from a railroad family. My wife's people are railroad people. My father-in-law worked here for 42 years. Her grandfather worked here 40 years. My father worked here 42 years and I've worked 35 years. That's 159 years of railroad service in the' family." Bill Brewbaker.. .on the railroad (or 35year* Police log Hitchhiker

Clipped from
  1. The Morning Herald,
  2. 27 Oct 1975, Mon,
  3. Page 3

wilmagossard Member Photo

Want to comment on this Clipping? Sign up for a free account, or sign in