Daddy, Uncle Mack, cousin Billy and Billy’s son Seth got arrested one time. I’ll have to guess, but it was probably in the late ‘90s – but I’ll have to rely on others to give the dates. Seth was a kid, the rest of them not so much kids. Let me set it up first.
When the railroads were built, they basically took people’s land – with government approval – and if necessary, they carved a line through people’s property and guarded their property and right of way fiercely. You didn’t mess with the tracks, you didn’t trespass and you darned sure didn’t USE the tracks. As the freight railroad companies have died back, they often abandoned the tracks, or sold or gave them to the states. You’ve probably seen some of them used as ‘Trail Rails” and such (http://www.railstotrails.org/index.html). In some cases, though – the rails were abandoned and lawsuits and arguments began about who owned the property.
This event happened along the abandoned rails between Manchester and Shiloh, which happened to run beside Billy’s house. It seems that somehow Billy had come to possess a train ‘truck’ – which is a 2 axle set of wheels. Either he or Uncle Mack had some lumber and a motor, and a decision was made to build a handcar – like the ones the work crews used to handle-drive along the tracks – here are some lovely pictures (http://www.railroadhandcar.com/history/handcar-photos.php) . Anyway – this gang built them one that was electric powered.
And there were abandoned railroad tracks just sitting there – and there were three men and a boy with too much time on their hands and a mountain between them and Shiloh. I am assuming here that they fashioned brakes on this thing because while Pine Mountain isn’t the tallest in the state, it is steep enough that trucks lose their brakes going down it.
So off they went. I’m going to estimate ages here, but if Seth was say 10, that puts his dad Billy about 30 something, Uncle Mack in his 50s and Daddy north of 70. All but Seth were older enough to know better. I don’t know much about the trip across and down the mountain, but it HAD to have been fun – I wish I was there for a lot of reasons, but that ride alone would have been worth it. Anyway, people who lived beside the tracks somewhere along the way were apparently surprised and not to happy about 4 people on a funny looking contraption riding down tracks that hadn’t been used in years and somebody along the way called the Sheriff.
By the time this magical railroad car reached level ground and rolled along the highway, a Deputy arrived and I guess pulled them over. Bullochs are nothing if not world-class talkers and as Mama says, we will argue with a fence post, and by the time Daddy and Mack got through with the poor Deputy, he didn’t know what to charge them with, so he took the marvelous toy, arrested all 4 of them and off they went to the jail.
I’m not sure how long it took, but I know that Aunt Jeanette was none too happy about being called to drive over to the next county to get them and the toy, but they all 4 came back with their citations.
And here’s where it goes even more sideways. The tracks don’t belong to the railroad – and the railroad didn’t report it, so there was no trespassing charge. Whoever reported them didn’t own the property either, so there was no trespassing there. The rails were unused, so there was no endangerment of anybody or anything, the boy involved was in no danger because his Dad and 2 great uncles were there and most surprising of all, they were all sober. So what were the citations for? Being out after curfew.
What? Wait – seriously what? (And I hope one of them kept the ticket because I saw it and its priceless). The ticket cited 3 men and 1 boy for being out after curfew, and what’s the curfew for a 70 year old man? The boy wouldn’t have been out after curfew if they had let them drive the cart back home and I’m not really sure a boy can be out after curfew if his Daddy is the one who took him out. So we all read the front and back of the ticket to see what to do.
There is no fine, but the ticket was to be turned back into the Sheriff after a parent signed it. We laughed a lot about that one – Seth was safe because Billy, one of the other delinquents involved could sign his. Billy’s Mama was still alive, she could sign his, but Grandma had been dead for quite a while and Pop for decades, so Daddy and Uncle Mack tried to decide who they could get to sign their tickets and much gallows humor followed and I think everybody threw the tickets away or put them in a drawer. For all I know there are bench warrants out for the whole lot of them in Harris County, Georgia.
© 2019 Susan Bulloch
Categories: Dad's Stories
I write. I fix computers. I feed cats.