Back in the Fifties, during the last years of the steam era when I was working as a call boy and later an engine dispatch clerk at the C.P.R's Lambton roundhouse in Toronto, there was one order we sometimes received which was dreaded above all else; "#1 Auxiliary to ......... S.A.P."
That was the order given when the "Big Hook" was called out, and you knew it was serious. A serious wreck of some kind, that was blocking the main line and it had to be cleared immediately. The initial uncertainty about how serious it was , and whether or not any employees were injured or killed added to the apprehension. Whatever the incident was, they were referred to as an "affair", as if to somehow reduce the seriousness of the event. These affairs always resulted in the filing of a report detailing what took place. On the CPR this was done using a form number 1409. Just the mention of that number was enough to get peoples attention.
The paper was onion skin, a thin, tough paper different from the very thin tissue used for train orders, but also intended for typing in multiple copies. What was put on those 1409's was what had to be reported, and this was reserved for serious things that could not be easily covered up, for back in those days a lot of small stuff was covered up just to keep everybody out of trouble with the higher ups. It was often said that there were three stories to every incident. First, there was what actually had happened, then there was what everybody agreed they were going to say had happened, and third there was what the lower ranking officials were going to tell the higher ranking officials had happened! Serious affairs were always followed always followed by an equally dreaded event known as an Investigation.
During an investigation the employees involved could be represented by the union representative. This was the Local Chairman, also known as the Griever, who would defend them. Stories were often cooked up for these hearings, for without this deception many a good railroader would have had his career ended long before his pension started. In recent years it seems nothing gets covered up and 1409's are filed immediately for even the most trivial thing, and then they proceed to make a federal case out of it.
Some years ago I came across a copy of an old 1409 dated July 21, 1977 and made out at Thunder Bay, it makes for good reading. Following the filling in of various spaces indentifying such things as, time, location, names of injured people, weather, visibility, etc. etc, comes the detailed explanation of what transpired, and this particular one required an extra page to cover it all. Read on! ....
Yard diesel 7018, Engineman N.Tanchik, no fireman, Yard Foreman R.D.Lane, Helpers B.Wyrozub and H.Dowell working on the regular Farm assignment had pulled CP313005 flat loaded with Subway Car destined Toronto from the Canadian Car & Foundry Co's siding and when reaching the Neebing Ave. gate, yard crew decided to make a running switch so the car could be handled on the west end of the diesel for pulling to the Island wye and turning. In doing so the movement was lined up for the diesel to go into the stub track located inside Canadian Car Co's fence and CP 313005 was to go westward on the Neebing Ave. lead towards the North Western elevator.
Just at the time the running switch was made a Canadian National yard movement, Diesel 7083, was moving from the Montreal St. siding and pulling 3 loads behind the Diesel, came out foul on Neebing Ave. lead side-swiping CP 313005 which had been cut off and was moving free on Neebing Ave. lead in a westerly direction.
The impact casued the Subway Car to come loose from its moorings on CP 313005 and catapult off the flat car clearing the ditch on the north side of the track and stirking Jenkins Funeral Home herse, a 1975 Cadillac model, license 3476-J driven by H.Gillman, which was heading a funeral procession and moving slowly in a westerly direction. The Subway Car struck the middle of the hearse and this resulted in the coffin being shot out of the damaged hearse, strking the Macadamized roadway and the body of the late Mr.A.Brown, a well-known pioneer of the City was dislodged from the coffin and landed up laying face down in 6 inches of water in the ditch on the north side of the roadway.
H.Gillman, driver of Jenkin's hearse received a knock on the head which rendered him totally deaf instantly whereup he ran back towards town on the Highway. He was later picked up by a motorist from the funeral procession that had been commandeered to take Mrs. A.Brown to hospital because she had suffered a heart attack when she discovered whathad happened to her husband. Mr.N.Jenkins director of the Jenkins Funeral Home and driver of the automobile following the hearse was unable to assist in this respect as he and the 6 pall bearers were injured by flying glass when they were unable to avoid running into the damaged hearse.
CP 313005 flat car which had the Subway Car on it ran free down the Neebing Ave. lead when Yardman B.Wyrozub was knocked off the car when it came in contact with the Canadian National diesel 7083. The flat car ran into #4 track at the North Western elevator demolishing the stop block and coming to rest hanging half over the trestle over the Kam River. Canadian National diesel 7083 when struck by CP 313005 had all wheels derailed at the point of impact and Engineman R.Spithead had 6 upper and 5 lower front teeth knocked out whe he hit his head on the air brake valve in the diesel cab when the diesel stopped suddenly.
The third or last car of the drag being pulled by Canadian National diesel 7083 was CN 660042 containing concrete blocks loaded at Terra-Krete on Montreal St. This car was exactly on Montreal St. at the crossing when the incident occurred and when it stopped suddenly, 11 concrete blocks toppled off the car landing on a 1976 Chevrolet Sedan.License 64T33 owned and driven by W.Wytoruk of 1822 Hillsdale Drive, St.Paul, Minn., who had been on Montreal St. stopped at the crossing to allow the Canadian National movement to clear.
Damage to W.Wytoruk's automobile was estimated at $6000 and Wytoruk sustained 2 broken legs and was taken to hospital. Yard Diesel 7018 which was involved in the running switch in the first place was lined up to go into the stub track inside Canadian Car Co's fence and became derailed. It was discovered that the Roadmaster had shortened up this track to about 40 feet in length but had forgot to put out any advice in this regard. The Diesel 7018 ran out of rail and stopped with all wheels completely off the track and listing on an angle of about 45 degrees. Yard crew on the Diesel 7018 unaware that the stub track inside Canadian Car Co's fence had been shortened were further deceived by the density and he height of the flora on track which obliterated any segment of rails, ties or stop-block.
It was signed by L.L.Beauregard with the notation, hold wire as A.J.C. advises we may be able to cover it up.
It took me a while (How long did it take you?) to realize that this 1409 although made out on the proper 1409 form was actually a spoof. I can assure you, and so can other old railroaders that ALMOST equally absurd things did happen and were taken in stride.
However, I think this one would have been a little to hard to cover up even in those halcyon days gone by!