Wednesday, April 15

Baseball Excursion

Back in the late 30's and early 40's there were a lot of Cincinnati Reds fans in Hazard. Once every summer the L&N would run a "Baseball Excursion" passenger train all the way to Cincinnati especially for all the fans in our area. I think it originated in Jenkins, stopped in Hazard, and picked up a few more passengers in Jackson, continued to Winchester and on to Grand Central Station in Cincy. That was the very first big railroad terminal I ever saw. I was impressed with the size of the place and how busy it was. It was very close to the old Crosley Field, the home of the Reds. Unloading at Grand Central we went out front and caught a streetcar to the front entrance of the ball park. We got to see all the old Reds like Frank McCormack and Ernie Lombardi and eat a few hot dogs. This was a great time for a 10 year old. After the game we jumped on the streetcar and rode back to the station and boarded the train for the long return trip back. I remember when we stopped in Jackson, going both ways, two ladies would sell us fried chicken box lunches for 50 cents from their their cart. No dinning car on the Hazard train. The four coaches we had were very old but in good shape. There were bathrooms on each coach and a coal burning pot bellied stove on each end. There was plenty of room for everybody and we could lie down and take a little nap when needed. Incidentally, being in a L&N family Granpa would give me a pass every so often. I could ride the regular passenger train any time I wanted. During the war years I even got to ride the big famous L&N passenger train called the "Hummingbird." It began every morning in Chicago and went all the way to New Orleans. I rode the Louisville/ Nashville section and visited my Granpa's brother who lived in downtown Nashville and also worked on the L&N. I learned to love riding the trains and did so at every opportunity while growing up. I was later fortunate enough to ride the old streamliner "City of Memphis" from Memphis to Nashville and years later the" Hiawatha" Superdome from minneapolis to Chicago.During the war, Granpa, Henry Lee McCollum, was the Yard Foreman where all the coal laden cars were hooked up every day going North. Directly across the river from the turntable and repair shop, just East of the Yards, he built a house up on top of the hill. Any time during the day Grandma could sit on the front porch in her rocking chair and watch Henry Lee working across the river. Every day he crossed the big swinging bridge coming and going to work. It was a great life back then. The city limits sign read Hazard, population 8,900...

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