The Railroad Man and The Cantaloupe Girl


In the late 1930’s, Dad was assigned to a station in Notasulga, Alabama, one of the stations along the Western Railway of Alabama section of The West Point Route.  Notasulga was and still is a very small rural town in the east central section of Alabama.  As with other towns in that region, the town’s name was derived from the Native American Indians.  The name “Notasulga” was derived from the Creek Indian word noti sulgi which means “many teeth”.

A young woman by the name of Margaret lived on a farm outside of the town of Notasulga.  Margaret would ride her bicycle into town carrying fruits and vegetables that were grown on the farm her family had lived on and farmed since 1920.  The “railroad man”, my father, bought fruits and vegetables from the young Margaret and he affectionately called her “The Cantaloupe Girl”.

Their business relationship turned personal and they were married on September 4, 1939.  They had two sons and a daughter, of which I am the oldest, the first born son.

Over the years, Wilton, Margaret and family moved up and down the railroad line as my father took different station assignments.  This is why, at a time where most siblings were all born in the same town, I was born in Margaret’s family farm outside of Notasulga, my sister was born in Chehaw, AL and my brother was born at West Point, GA.

We moved often up and down the railroad line which meant I attended different schools, including first grade in Lanett, Al then to West Point, GA then Lowndesboro, AL.  High school was spent between Notasulga and Auburn, AL.  The positive side to all this moving was the union seniority my father built up by staying with the same railroad line for so many years.  When it came time for college, he was able to “bump” the agent at Auburn, a common practice at the time, and moved the family there so we could live at home while attending college at Auburn University.

None of the “railroad man’s” and “the cantaloupe girl’s” children carried on the family tradition of making a career on the railroad.  That family legacy ended with my Dad and Uncle Cecil.  It wouldn’t be too many more years and the whole railroad industry would change and the way of life that I knew growing up on the railroad would disappear from the American landscape.

My musings and recollections of my youth and my resulting love of old trains will hopefully preserve some of those bygone days.  My goal is to give present and future generations a glimpse of what it was like to grow up on the railroad and what it was like to “live” with old trains in addition to some history of the American railroad system and their trains.


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