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Jumping the train and missing your stop

• Nov 15, 2018 at 9:00 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This essay was written by Betty Esker in the 1930s about a hike she and her then boyfriend Jim Esker took before they were married. Betty is still alive today and living Norwalk. She will turn 100 later this month. Her daughter, Kathy, unearthed this handwritten essay in a treasure trove of old documents and photos in preparation for Betty’s 100th birthday celebration this year. It shows the spunk she has had throughout her whole life.


In the years before Jim and I were married, we spent a lot of time taking walks — through fields and woods, or following along the path of the Huron River. 

On this particular fall day we had followed the river west toward Monroeville, then headed back northeast, ending near Milan. It was getting late in the afternoon and we were both feeling pretty tired, by then having walked probably 8 or 10 miles, and we were still 4 miles from home.

As we approached Milan we passed a line of loaded freight cars, just sitting there before going on south toward Norwalk and home. It just seemed like a good idea to grab a ride back.

So we climbed up to the top of one of the cars and were soon headed in the right direction. But when we got to Norwalk the train didn’t stop, just slowed down as it went through. I was afraid to jump off the moving freight car!

There we were, up on top of the loaded ore car, traveling at a pretty good speed. And it was getting cold up there as well as dirty! Glory, I was scared. We thought maybe we wouldn't stop again until we got to Pittsburgh.

The train did come to a full stop again though, at a little village about 6 miles east of Norwalk (Hartland, OH). We climbed down and wearily walked home, cold and very tired, but glad we hadn’t had to find our way back from Pittsburgh!


NOTE: Trains today are much different from the trains of yore. Hobos jumping freight trains was not a rare occurrence. The trains were pulled by big lumbering steam locomotives — much slower than today’s diesels. Our modern trains are much faster and pose a huge safety risk. Betty would never even contemplate this today.



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