Of Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns

Of Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns
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Friday, March 18, 2011

The Last of the Pufferbellies in Dundalk

WE were at war! The Japanese had bombed Perl Harbor and Germany declared war. It was 1942! We were loosing the war in North Africa and we were being Driven back in the Pacific. We were melting down everything metal we could find. We kids collected aluminum pots and pans and turned them over to the fire department to be used in building airplanes.

The Baltimore News Post put a story on the front page that Steam locomotives would be towed to the steel mills to be melted down to build guns and ships. On that day hundreds of people walked down the streets to the railroad crossings to watch the locomotives being pulled through town.

America was well attached to it's steam locomotives. Lionel and American Flier toy trains were the most popular toys around every Christmas. Engineers were our heroes. We looked on steam railroads in aw.

There was more, we were watching the end of an era and everyone sensed it. It was also the approaching end of a way of life but we didn't sense that and it didn't come for may years. Our American love of machinery would one day become a love of cheap electronic toys. The highly skilled American craftsman was soon to be equated to the low level white collar worker.  The caftsman's skill and years of education and training was lost in a single generation.

Only thirty years later another long line of machinist, mill wrights, tool makers and die makers all tramped there way to big box stores to greet customers.

The pride of a nation, the machinery that provisioned a war on two fronts and overcame odds that the whole world thought America would succumb to was sold to the Chinese for pennies. We have been reduced to making electronic toys and calling this failure, progress.

Today we send our children to get a degree and become nothing more than specialized word smiths. Few thus educated have the ability to think outside the narrow area of their study.

It is the experienced mechanical Engineer that has gone with the machinery. The kids come out of college knowing nothing of real know how and there is no factory to gain the needed experience to become a truly qualified engineers. They don't even know they are lacking.

The Locomotives were only the first to go. Our lessor Gods, the production line would follow.

Our Children are educated to look back on those years of the assembly line worker as the dirty industrial years. Of course they were the years where America earned it's wealth to give our youth their educations. God Bless mass production.

I am sometimes accused of thinking outside the box. I reply, "It is not so.  I just have a bigger box than they."


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