Time means everything to the railroad, according to Bruce Gurner. "Everything operated on the standard time for that time zone. There was an official clock in all the bigger depots. It was corrected to the second every day at eleven o'clock. The operator on duty would push a button and the second hand on every clock would jump to exactly eleven."
The engineer and the conductor ran the train with a time table, train orders and a watch. Every trip they had a watch comparison standing beside the engine.
Gurner tells of one passenger engineer who lost his expensive--and accurate--watch in a Canton dice game during the 1930's. "He bought a dollar watch and for a year and a half he ran One and Four with a 'Mickey Mouse' watch. If everybody else on the crew has a watch, nobody is going to let you run into anything."
"Everybody who had anything to do with meeting trains or clearing trains had to have a watch comparison every thirty days. The superintendent's office kept a comparison checklist and if you didn't show up you got a note and they would pull you out of service real quick."
Gurner says his father, B. G. Gurner, carried a white gold "Father Time" Elgin watch which he purchased in 1919 for $35 or $40. 'A pretty good chunk of money."
Copyright © 1998 Jack Gurner