Frederic Proby Gibson - My Daddy's Depot

Tell us your stories about the people you know who worked for the T&P.
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Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:35 pm

Frederic Proby Gibson - My Daddy's Depot

Post by aharlow »

An essay written for a college English Class at Sul Ross State College in 1945. I received an “A” with the comment, “Well done!” (The depot was in Allamore, Texas.)


The railroad station where my father worked as agent was a well known to me as my own room at home. I had seen my father work there day after day. I had been there day after day myself, and the place seemed to belong to us. Each part of it was something familiar and personal to me, and I know that I will never go into the office of any station and not feel at home.

There was not a thing in that station that I cannot remember. The friendly click, click, clicking of the telegraph keys, sending messages fast and furiously over the wires. “Train 63 sidetrack Allamore for Train 7”. My father’s hand, swift and sure, hovered over the key sending the reply. The dull ringing of the dispatcher’s phone, the ear phone hanging over the hood. There were the pigeon-holes on the desk--the innumerable pigeon-holes-- holding everything from envelopes to salt shakers. Cluttered around on the desk amid the dust were stubs of pencils, ink pads, rubber stamps, pins, blotters, matches. the old upright typewriter stood on its little grey table and there rolled out from it weigh bills, car reports, train orders, Western Union messages. The big pendulum clock on the wall had a dusty face and a crack in the glass, and it always stood at 2:45. It had seen its years of service and had been too peaceful just banging there to get around to being repaired.

I can remember rushing in on cold days and hovering around the little iron stove standing in its box of sand in the middle of the room. There beside it were the coat scuttles, and I can remember the suffocating smell that came when the coal was dumped from the scuttle onto the flames, almost smothering them. There was the turn crank phone with the little black button that you pressed when you talked. That wasn’t a dispatcher’s phone, and it had a nice, clear ring.

I can remember the smell of the sealing wax as my dad lighted it, letting it drop in blobs on the flaps of the envelopes. Then he would take the stamp and stamp the T & P seal on the hot, dark red wax. I used to like to feel that stamp, ice-cold in my hand. It was round and not too large, the handle fitting nicely into the palm of my hand.

Hanging on the wall close to the door were the hoops for handing up orders to the trains, and the lanterns, white and red, filled with oil, the wicks trimmed, waiting to be used.

There was the wall safe and the big grey ledgers on the table under the windows, and the paper punch. That paper punch was fun, and it was more than once that I littered the floor with little yellow circles of railroad paper. There were the pads of blue-green tissue sheets for train orders, and the big tin glue can with the hole punched in the corner to let the glue out, the little black machine for stamping the tickets, and the odors of carbon paper and ink.

And there were many more, but all these were the ones I liked the best. I liked the dust, the coal smoke, the smells, the clanging of the phones, the ticking of the keys. It was the friendliest place I’ve ever known, because it was my daddy’s depot.

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Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:26 pm

Re: Frederic Proby Gibson - My Daddy's Depot

Post by luramc »

My great-grandparents were friends of Alla Moore - the woman for whom the town of Allamoore, Texas was named. She was the first woman telegrapher on the T & P, having "inherited" the position after the death of her husband (formerly the station's telegrapher).

Since Alla Moore had no children, she willed her estate to her three best friends. My great-grandmother, being one of those 3 heirs, passed several of those items on to our family members. An item I now posess is a photo album with pictures of Alla Moore's friends and family (??). None of the pictres are labeled, but I'd love to share them with you online if you think any of your family may have had a connection with her. I'll have to check for dates on when she lived in that part of Texas and when she worked for theT & P.

Let me know if you are interested.

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