Via happydog’s Wordorigins post, I present Railroad Terminology, Slang, and Definitions, from the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, Glenn Holmes Sr., Local #72. I have a weakness for such assemblages of the jargon of particular trades, lovingly assembled not by lexicographers but by the practitioners of the trade, who tend to write unscientific but enjoyable entries. The lead-in to the vocabulary goes like this:
When I hired on the MO-PAC, back in ’76, I overheard my foreman tellin’ one of the old head signalman on our gang to ” . . . keep an eye out fer th’ switch engine, cus it could show up at anytime”. Well, being a new boot and not knowin’ nothin’, I asked my foreman, “How do you know which one of these trains is a switch engine?” and he told me “After ya been on this man’s railroad for a few years, you’ll know what a switch engine is, now get back to diggin’”. Right friendly feller he was.
Well, here I am, some 30 years later and now I’m th’ “old head” and I got new boots and citizens asking me th’ same things, ‘cept I’m a little friendlier. Ya’ think you know what a “Tommy Dodd” is, or how ’bout a “snipe“, or maybe a “Blue Goose“. Read on and enjoy and when someone asks you “What is a Pussyfoot, anyway?” you’ll know just what to tell ‘em. Oh, and by the way, a switch engine is . . .
An entry pulled at random: “When do you shine?” = “What time were you called for?” And for AJP, a “Green Goat” is a hybrid electric locomotive using batteries to power electric traction motors. Have fun, but watch out for Rule G!