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Railroad Man 40 Plus Years

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 11:59 AM

By William Galler

As a boy Raymond Bottles loved to ramble about the railroad yard. Everything about trains fascinated him. Needless to say, on occasion, adults tried to shoo him away out of fear for his safety or for concern that he might distract railroad workers. But he was not to be kept away for long.

Some studies indicate that the average person may have as many as five careers during a working life. Not so with Bottles. There never was any doubt in his mind when it came to making a career choice as a junior at Toledo Libby High School.

This absence of doubt was not surprising. Ray Bottles had been born into a railroad family. Once Ray and a dozen of his relatives were working on the railroad at the same time. His grandfather, Wesley J. Bottles, had railroad tracks running behind his home. It was this grandfather who on occasion chased Ray off the tracks when Ray was just seven years old. Wesley J. had started the Bottles' railroad employment when he worked as a switchman in 1901.

Ray's father, Donald S. Bottles, a police lieutenant, served in security for the New York Central system. His responsibility was the safety of the many celebrities who traveled on the 20th Century Limited, including Hollywood personalities and even U.S. presidents.

As early as 1950, Ray had opportunities to ride with his dad on a New York Central steam locomotive, and at age 12 he was managing to get rides from Toledo to Elkhart, Ind., and back home. He knew many of the train's crew personally, so he felt safe with them.

While he was still in high school, on May 29, 1959, Raymond Bottles became an employee of the New York Central System through the efforts of his father. Ray was furloughed three months later due to a steel strike. But, confident that he would be called back, Ray returned to high school in Toledo and graduated in January, 1960.

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