More Railroad Poetry -- Fireman

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Fri Jan 1 16:24:16 EST 2021

>From the *Salem Sentinel*, 16 May 1899.

Bruce in Blacksburg

The firemen have to do more hard work than any other man on a crew, and is
in as much danger as the engineer, but does not get wages enough to make
him a rich man. A great deal depends on what engineer a fireman is fireing
[sic firing] for, as to how much work he has to do, and some of them have
their own work and a great deal of the engineer's work. Below will be found
a few of the firemen's troubles.

A Fireman’s Troubles.

A fireman has hard work to do—
On through run, or on pusher;
his duties always have been hard,
And will be in the future.

He is begrimmed [sic begrimed] by coal dust black,
And thirsty as can be;
With sweat and cinders in his eyes,
Poor boy can hardly see.

His face is black as it can be,
His wife doesn’t know his figure;
She passes by him on the street,
And takes him for a negro.

His sweetheart mistakes his face
For that of some “hobo”
Or thinks perhaps, he has escaped,
>From some dime minstrel show.

He has to fill the lamps with oil,
And light them at sundown;
He puts them out at sunrise,
And cleans them all around.

He has to coal the engine up,
And clean the ash pan, too;
He has to pull the clinkers out
And start the fire anew.

He has to fire up all the grades,
And get down coal at stations;
He has to keep the water in her,
His tasks have no cessations.

He has to get down all the coal,
The brakemen are so lazy;
They will not help him out at all,
He thinks they are all crazy.

His engineer won’t help him out,
In all his tribulations;
He has to do the work alone,
And has no recreations.

He has to watch the engine,
>From morning until night;
He has to keep the steam up,
>From darkness until day-light.

The engineer is fast asleep,
His troubles lost in dreams;
The fireman has to stay awake,
And see that the engine steams.

Of the firemans many troubles,
We tell you just a few;
Our sympathy goes out to him,
He is generous, kind, and true.
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