The Dead Man Switch Part 3

Welcome back. Merry Christmas to all and here’s hoping for a Happy New Year! After coming down with what the doctors told me was some sort of infection I learned that about 1/3 of the people in this part of the country have had it. I’ve been laid up for several days so maybe now would be a good time to remind you folks that the number one recommended way to stay safe from colds and flu is to use hand sanitizer which you can find just about everywhere you go nowadays. I’m on the mend but I can testify to the fact that you don’t want what I had.

Continuing from last week, although I’m still a little fuzzy from the medications I have been on and these events took place forty-seven years ago, over the last few weeks I’ve had time to recall the Christmas tale from a time long ago in my life that I only remember as “the dead man switch”. It was Christmas week and all the mansion’s Christmas lights were up and on. It had taken the grounds keepers several weeks to hang them all and meanwhile I still hadn’t heard if maybe I would get the day off. There was some kind of Christmas Eve dinner being planned for the twenty-five or so staff members but it looked like for Diana and me it would be work as usual on Christmas.

Diana was stone cold dedicated to the two triplet boys I’d met and nothing interfered with work, not birthdays, weddings or Christmas. She worked seven days a week and as for me it had been twenty-two days straight when Christmas Eve came around and I asked about time off. Diana was flying in on the company plane from New York with the two brothers. My job was to pick them up at the airport and take them wherever they wanted. While I was waiting for the plane which was something of a regular thing, I picked up a newspaper to read. It was then that I remembered where I’d seen the two brothers’ faces but it wasn’t them it was the third brother who was written about in the papers every year.

The third brother was credited with saving the lives of several hundred people on a special train ride into the mountains on Christmas Eve forty years earlier. I got so caught reading about the near disaster I didn’t notice the plane come in and leave again nor did I notice Diana walk right up behind me. In a rare display of emotion she sat down beside me and told me the part of the story that was left out of the papers. As young men the triplets had all been different. The fancy dresser I had met had loved the book work involved with running a company while the first one was a builder. He enjoyed the whole process from the first shovel of dirt to putting the roof on. The third brother planned to be the engineer in the outfit. He also was fascinated by trains and the way they operated and it was a train accident she tearfully told me that killed him. Diana confessed that they had planned to be married later on that same train but he had been riding up front with the engineer in the locomotive when they saw another train speeding right towards them.

By this time in the story Diana was crying so hard that all I could get out of her was that the third brother had pulled what every train engine has, a “dead man switch” which stopped the train in its tracks. Unfortunately it wasn’t fast enough for the brother and the engineer who were both killed but the pair was given credit saving the lives of everyone else on both trains.
Brokenhearted, since that day forty years ago, Diana and the other two brothers had thrown themselves into their work. She said there were no days off, no vacations, just work and then she said she didn’t think I needed the money that badly. She was right and I gave her my notice one year later on a snowy New Year’s Day I left their employment but I’ll never forget the job or the story of the dead man switch.

Have a Happy New Year and till next time I’ll see ya down the road…..


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