08 NOV 07
The Hall Interview
I have had the privilege of being the first to interview the single flesh that is Mr. and Mrs. Hall, and I received there story from both sides. I was given two halves of the whole. They were both kind enough to share with in an interview the story of their lives as a couple and their ties with the local railroad and its influence on the and the surrounding communities. And their story was nothing short of God blessed.
Alfred Jones: I am here with Mr. and Mrs. Hall. I would like to start out with asking you both where you all grew up; and what was the most impacting event upon you alls child hood?
Ronnie Hall: I grew up in Fort Worth, Texas for the most part--half fort worth, half Eden, Texas. I-I knew who my blood parents were, but I also had a foster family that I lived with partially part of the time. And, I guess the greatest impact would be, as a small child, was God allowing somebody to come into my life at five years old, and to kinda take me out of a bad situation, and get me out the majority time of my adolescence.
AJ: Mrs. Hall?
Sherry Hall: I grew up in Sanderson, Texas, and I was born in Fort Stockton, Texas; and lived there until after I married. And, we left for a couple of years. I went to school at Sol Ross in Alpine, and I spent a lot of time in the Sanderson, Dryden, Pumpville, Langtry area. Growing up, my grandparents ranched and had a grocery store, a feed barn, and my grandfather was a postmaster. And I spent a lot of time in that area around the grocery store and stuff that went on in Pumpville. And, that was a big impact-is the time I spent with my grandparents in Pumpville.
AJ: While you all were growing up, what work experience did you all have prior to meeting each other?
RH: My first paid job--Iím old enough that you had to be twelve years old to receive a social security card, and I went to drug with--I went to work in a drug store back when they cooked, and made-they made sandwiches, and milkshakes and ice cream, and mopped and swept. Apart of the experience was that I was about three months shy of being twelve years old. So, I didnít have a social security card, but I told the man that I did. So, he could not pay we without a social security number, and he kept asking for that number. And, when I turned twelve, I ran and got my card. And, said here it is, and I think I made all of 33 cents an hour, if I remember right; but that was my first job. Then I worked in supermarkets as--did everything in like a big chain store, mopping stocking and even ended up checking some. And, various time as I was gong to school I would come and go with the same store. When I showed up--maybe I was good help cause they always gave me my job back. I did that then I was a swamper on a waster well rig doing water wells and pipe lines. And when I was eighteen, I went to work with the railroads.
AJ: Mrs. hall?
SH: Other than being taught how to do chores around the house and take care of my younger sisters, I learned how to wait on customers, how to stock shelves, and clean the store, and load feed, and stuff at my grandparents grocery . And, those were the only real jobs that I had. I helped a friend whose parents ran a restaurant, and I helped her some; but I never really had a paying job at the restaurant. But that was my job experience-work experience.
AJ: How do you all feel about the price changes and the inflation since when you all were growing up to the time it is now? Things costing ten cents then now a dollar.
RH: I like to take that question. I can remember somebody said, well I can remember when I paid 5 cents for a loaf of bread--the generation ahead of me--and I just kinda look at them and said man things must really be bad. ĎCause now its 25 cents a loaf--when I was a kid--and gasoline was 25 cents a gallon; and some times 15 cents a gallon. And gas wars--and of course I can remember that. And I donít--actually we're financially hopefully--weíre maybe going down hill. Weíre up hill now. Bread cost a--i donít know what bread cost-- dollar a loaf 1.25. The question is to anybody--for myself its how much money did you make then. So, we didnít make very much money, but now, we make a lot more money. So, we just--actually its cheaper than what it was for a loaf, as far as I am concern. So, there are more people better off today than there were 50 years ago. So, the price of bread or gasoline coincides with wages people make today. So, I am not really concerned.
SH: Id like to commit on that. Yes, wages have gone up, but not in the same to keep pace with the cost of living. One thing that has happened, that I think has created some of the cost stuff, is back when they had a movement that women need to find themselves and get out in the workplace. And, you know, have their career. So, these women went to work, and they had the Womenís Live Movement. Then because they were working and drawing salary and demanded higher pay and all this stuff, everything started going up. Well then other women had to go to work to help just provide for their families. They had to help there husbands, and so it was just kinda a cycle. And, it would be nice if we kinda went back to the older way. I know it would cut salaries down, but it would never cut cost down. So, I donít know if we could ever do it, but salaries have kept up. Minimum wage has finally gone up a little bit, but it would be nice to go back to the lower salary and the lower prices and the slower pace life
AJ: Have either of you had the chance to work outside of Texas?
RH: Myself, just the military until my time was up and--Sherry?
SH: And I worked out of Texas for the Air Force/Army Exchange in Washington State--Fort Lewis Washington.
AJ: Aside from the military, is it fair to say that both of you are apart of Texas history, and Texas history is apart of you all?
SH: I would say most definitely on my part.
RH: And Iím afraid to go back more than one generation. Iím afraid of what I might find on my part-on my part. Thatís a joke.
SH: Related to Jesse James or something like that.
RH: I donít really remember the question.
SH: Iím going to give you an answer that he gave me one time, Alfred. I think it was like 1988 or something around there. His job was a little unsecured, and he was concerned and stuff. So, he applied for a different position with the railroad, and he was going to have to move. And, we were going to move to Kansas, and our son was still in school. And, he said that was fine, and he moved--and you know what its like to have to move. So, Ronnie flew to Kansas, and it was a, oh, a terrible ice storm. It was cold. He had to buy some ice snow boots and stuff, and he came back. And I could sense a little bit of unsure--he didn't feel completely at peace with it. I don't think, but he knew it would probably be in our best interest. And so, I was in San Antonio waiting for him, and we were driving back to Sanderson. And, he said out of the clear blue sky. He just said. I want you to promise me one thing. He said if something happens to me in Kansas. He said. I want you to bring me back home and Barry me in Texas, but God didn't want us to be in Kansas. And, it just didn't work out, and they couldn't ever get the man, that was suppose to be moving, his paper work done for us to move. So, we stayed at home in Sanderson, Texas.
AJ: Mr. Hall, where did you first start out in the railroads?
RH: San Antonio, Texas as a clerk. Give you a little bit something different than I did the other day. They had--I was on what they called a clerk section board. That meant back then no computers, and everything was done long hand. And so, they had probably at the southern pacific terminal San Antonio at each yard probably fifty clerks on duty on each shift--three shifts a day. They never shut down, and they all had different responsibility. And of course, they all did there jobs. But whenever they would call me, I would have to go work this job that I had never worked before. As example, tonnage clerk--I would work with tonnage trains. The next day I'd be a weigh master and be weighing cars, and the next day I may work in the superintendents office doing something. So consequently, I never knew the job. There was to many of them, and whenever the regular person would come back, they would usually be upset. And of course, me being fairly immature and young and no work experience in that area. So, they had a--they sent me one night in a vehicle, and I didn't know San Antonio at all. And I--they just put me there--and I lived in a room in a house and I walk across the freeway to work. And they said, well go back four miles this way and gave me directions, and drop this paper work off here. And when you get through, go back four miles this way, and drop some paper work off. And then, come back to this rail office, and I kinda wrote down a few instructions or directions. And so, I get in the vehicle. I had a drivers license, and I took off. And, I made it to the first place; and I made it to the second place; but whenever I went to come home. I found out that most streets around down town San Antonio went in circles, and I ended up down by the Alamo. And, i was gone, oh, a couple of hours. And the railroad has constant radio traffic, and this vehicle had a radio in it. And you know, people switching cars, and this guy was talking--there were hundreds of people talking on this radio. And, every once in a while somebody would call out this vehicle number, but I didnít know it had a vehicle number. Theyíd call, hypothetically, vehicle number 41 whatís your location? They were calling me, and I didnít realize that. And I said oh lord. What am I going to do? I cant find my way back to the rail office, and I just kept driving and driving. Finally somebody came over the radio Which they didnít use names much, and they said Ronnie Hall where are you? Can you hear this radio? Well Iíd never used a radio in my life. I seen on movies, you know, people pick this microphone up. I said this is Ronnie Hall, and they said where are you? And, I paused for a long time, and I said. Well, I got to tell them. I got to tell them that I donít know where I am at, and I said. Iím lost. I donít know. And of course, the cat calling over, and the different guys that heard that, screaming and laughiní. Who ever I was talking to, said give me two street numbers. And so, about an hour later, they worked me all the way back and got me back there. And the guy that was in charge of all the clerks he said--he pointed his finger at me. And he said, never ever put him in a vehicle again ever, and he said if someone tells you to get in one donít go; and tell them I said so. So that was the end of my San Antonio drive.
AJ: How did you wind up in Sanderson?
RH: I went to Sanderson to work for someoneís job that went on vacation. They put me on a bus, said I'd be out there a couple of weeks. It was no trouble to pack. Everything I owned was in a small suitcase. So I went out there, and the person that worked the midnight shift--a regular job not the... A regular job they said that that position was open, and I said you mean I have the opportunity to hold a regular job. And they said yes, and of course, back then with my age, working night shift I had it made. It was a wonderful opportunity to get way from the mad house up in San Antonio. So, when I had an opportunity to stay, I stayed. I never left.
AJ: How did you two meet?
SH: One of his jobs at the depot for the railroads was to take the mail sacks off of the passenger train in the morning when it came in--about seven or 7:30 in the morning. And he hauled them over to the post office--to the back of the post office, and he took them inside. And my mother worked at the post office. And so, she knew him, and a friend of mine who had met Ronnie--a boy that I went to school with. You know he said well he needs to meet some young people. And he came up and asked me if I would consider going on a blind date with this boy that he had met and his girlfriend, who we were going to double date. And I said well I had to ask permission, but I didn't ever intend on asking permission, because I didn't know him. And I was bashful, and I didn't want to go on a date with someone I didn't really know. So, three or four days later, I was with my mother and a friend of hers. We stopped at a drive in Dairy King to get a coke, and this boy walked up and asked me again. And, I was wanting to say go away, and my mother said now who--and she said oh yes. I know him. He is a nice boy. Yes she can go. So, I really can say that my mother was the responsible one, so. That was how we met.
AJ: When did you all get married?
SH: Yes, later. No secret, he knew all of my extended family that lived in Sanderson, and he came into it with his eyes wide open. I have a family thatís got lots of character.
RH: One-Iíll add one story that I didnít ad the other day. During that same era, I didnít know sherry very well, but they invited me up to--was it Thanksgiving dinner, or they just invited me up for supper.
SH: We just invited you up.
RH: Her father, her grandmother, her aunt--it seemed like were there, and they were all raised on ranches around there; and being in this part of the country, they all speak--to me--fluent Spanish. Well her dad, I know, speaks Castian, Tex-Mex, and that good Mexico... but I was real shy. And I didnít know all the family was going to be there, and I sat down to eat a little bit. And Sherry and her sisters and grandmother, granddaddy and her mother and dad, they were kinda looking at me; and none of them were very friendly. They didnít carry on a conversation with me. So I was kinda sitting there... They started conversing in Spanish to each other, and every once in a while they would look at me. So-so I said how rude. I really wanted out of there then, but I made it through. And Sherry tried to convince me they werenít talking about me. They were talking about some other subject, but they would just take off. And like I said they werenít real friendly-very friendly people to me to start with. We look back at thatís kinda the... and I am sure they were on a good day. But knowing them as well as I know all of them now. The ones that are still alive. They sure fooled me.
SH: But when he left, I had no idea that he thought that they had been talking about him, or I would have set it strait. And then later he asked me about it, and I said oh no. I knew what they were talking about. I could understand what they were saying. I never really learned to speak Spanish, but I could understand. And my aunt and grandmother lived out on my auntís ranch, and the man that worked for her had been telling her that she needed to do--this and this. So, they were askiní my dad, and things just donít translate as well some times. So, they just switched to Spanish, but that happened a lot and I didnít think anything about it. But in no way, were they talking about him.
AJ: Where did you allís marriage take you after that?
RH: Well it didnít take us very far. Since we-I worked out at Sanderson, and she was from Sanderson. We lived there, until I got drafted in the military. And that was an experience of course for both of us, and then I had to leave but ah. So we spent the majority of the time--other than the military 27 years--and raised our family and kids in a one horse town. And we enjoyed the pretty much of it.
AJ: When did you join the military?
RH: I didnít. I did not join they-they drafted me, and again I was so immature; and I really had anybody to talk to me about what was going on with Vietnam or anything. And I knew that the kids my age a few of them not many of them, and when I dropped out of school--like I said--I became eligible for the draft. It didnít take long during that era, and you were gone, usually within six weeks. I didnít realize--there was no protesting or no pro or con against Vietnam in Sanderson, Texas, and again I didnít have anybody to sit down and talk to me about it. But I didnít have anybody to tell me. Whatever you do never drop out of school, or you will be gone the next day.
SH: Verify the school instance.
RH & SH: College.
RH: College. Yeah, if you dropped out of college you were out of there. So I just never thought about it. Out of ignorance more than anything, and I did not know anything about what the conflict was about; and I'm not sure I knew while I was over there. It was years later you know just by listening and reading, and then I formed--I have an opinion today, but during the time I was just--they said go through that door I went through that door, so.
AJ: How long were you in the armed forces?
RH: I was drafted for two years.
AJ: How was the experience in Vietnam?
RH: For people that were over there, I had a good experience. I ended up--I wasnít trained to do that, but I ended up as a door gunner for the support helicopter group; and carried helicopter supplies to different flyer bases. Anywhere they had helicopters we-we carried parts, and whatever they needed-needed over there. So I had a good duty as far as Vietnam goes compared to a lot of people that I know now didnít.
SH: Our experience with the military was other than that, I would say it was a positive probably. It was one of-one thing that we saw different parts of the-the country, and we grew; and it help us to mature and really see what things were. So as far as it being a real negative. It wasnít, and I donít think that Ronnie or I--know it was kinda hard on me with him being overseas and stuff, but I donít think we would ever had been the type of people--were patriotic, and we love our country; and its our duty to serve. And he would have never been a runoff to Canada or to or anything like that.
RH: No I wouldnít of but A, I didnít have the gas money to get there so...
SH: But it was just--it was you know one of the-one of the duties that he fulfilled, and after it was done we can look back and say that it was a-a positive in most areas of the word positive. And I donít think heís probably glad that he served and we had a very good experience.
AJ: What was you alls greatest memory of that experience?
SH: Well, I donít know about his. Heís the one that served. There were a number of different things, but I know one is it--the different-the different things that happened it strengthened my faith; and a lot of times when youíre young and you-youíre not really right where you need to be. That can pull you back to where instead of feeling like youíre doing everything on your own, you know you canít. You got to-you got to look to God to take care of things, and you got to have faith that heís going to be there no matter what to hold you up; and I know--met him in Hawaii I think. He had R&R, and his plane taxied out just right in front of the one that--and most of it was just wives on the one plan--and they turned and went one direction, and of course the pilot of our plane said. You know this is so and so departing for Denaene or wherever. It was going and the majority of the women began--on that airplane--began to wail and scream and-and you know. I thought how sad that-that you know. They have--they donít have any peace. You know about how things were going to happen. You know no one had any assurance that they would ever see there husband--or--again, but you just had to have faith. You just had to have faith, and I--one of my prayers was--because at that time there was allot of drugs involved--and I never ever felt like he would get involved in dope, but you know. You never know when people get in a bad situation, and you know. I didnít want him coming home all messed up; and God took care of that-that was one of my prayers, and he came home maybe a little--what is it when the dogs turned the trash barrels over and you jumped up I think.
RH: Oh, when I--
SH: He thought he was still in Vietnam.
RH: yeah, when I got home yeah.
SH: So I-I was very thankful that he came home basically the inner person that he was when he left. He had grown a lot, matured, and a lot of different areas.
AJ: Mr. Hall what was your greatest memory from the Vietnam experience?
RH: It was a time of just-of just counting days off Ďtil I could get out of there actually. It was an experience, but you know I was at a place that I didnít want to be; and so to think there was a great experience. It would probable getting out. There were no great experiences over there. There were memorable experiences, but there were no great experiences. Most of them bad memories
Alfred Jones: In the armed forces, the economy, and freedom that many lack, our nation is said to be the greatest nation. What has made the United States the greatest nation?
Ronnie Hall: Well the United States was-was founded by I hope I got this right the persecuted European Christians, and it was founded on God. Whether people want to admit that or believe that or not, and that has made in my opinion the United States the power house--I herd a--were not in church--you're asking a question, but I herd a preacher one time make a comment; and he was-he was, during the 17th 18th centuries and into the 19th England held war apart of the known--well it was all known of the world--and the other countries as an example. And I can remember him saying in-that in 1948 when Israel became a country that England fought that with everything they had. I really donít know to this day why they did that, but they fought that with everything they had; and since that time, they have lost 90 percent of their worldly holdings as a country. So I donít know if that means anything or not. But I am going to use the word coincide, but coinciding with that the United States supported that resolution of whatever they were doing. And the course of that for Israel to become a country in 1948, and we were a great country prior to them but we-we became the number one power house in the world. And still are even though thatís goal could leave us at anytime since that time. So thatís my opinion; and just give you two examples of the country that the history models. We were a power house at the time, but I donít know if well continue to stay that way but-but I would say that this is one of the reasons; but the main reason is that the people and their families came over ,and it was founded in godly principles. And all of the wrong things that went wrong in our country. You know God has still allowed us to stay in the game and I-on the church part of it-I still have trouble finding out where the United States will end. I canít find them in their. So I donít know where its all going to end with us. You know what Iím talkin' about, but we're not mentioned in the last days. So you need to--I'm getting away with the question.
SH: Well, I feel like that-that our godly principles was what pulled this country everyone-everyone that-that came here they either came for you know freedoms or a better way of life but because our the beginning times our laws and stuff were based on godly principle and people looked to god it kept our country strong and as long as we have a few people that'll still pray allot of thing can happen you know god tells you that if my people would pray and turn from their wicked ways and everything he'll-he'll hear our prayers and he'll save us as a nation. RH: I'm not sure that's what the answer you wanted but that's-that's the way we feel.
AJ: Was there a point in your marriage when you guys had to take a major turn?
SH: I'll go first on this. We hadn't been married very long when we did a tour with Uncle Sam in the military. It was a little bit stressful. That was not what we had planned out for our lives, but it was not a bad experience once we finished; and I see we grew form it. You can make all the plans you want to make for your life, and what you're going to do and everything; but God has saw things differently. And in 1994, we had to make a drastic change of our lives, and his job moved. He had to choose between Del Rio and El Paso, and we moved to Del Rio. And it was a-and it was a hard--and its not wasn't but 120 miles but it was very hard. And I had spent so much time right there in my home town with my parents, and it was in a time when my parents were getting older. And so, but it was an adjustment, but it has not really been--Iím not saying its been a total negative. Its been in a lot of areas a positive.
AJ: Mr. Hall?
RH: Yeah Iíll echo what she said about the major change in our lives, and I had many locations to go. I could go--it didnít have to be El Paso or Del Rio. We elected to stay close to her parents, which Iím closer to her parents than any remnant of family that I've ever had. I'm closer to her sisters and her mother and dad probably than-than anybody else, but it was a major change for us; and then at the same time, our youngest child had left the nest. And so there were already changes there, and then it seemed like that this--the reason that we had to move--went on for about three years. And with my job, and this not only the move; but then-then being the Union REP for the engineers. Then we merged. They called it a merge, but it was actually just the paper work. No longer Southern Pacific, now we're Union Pacific, and we had to redo all of our lines; and seniority and that--I donít want to call it traumatic, but it was a change--seemed like it would never stop. We buried four close friends on the reason we moved, and the accident that still carries because our son in law, he and my daughter--his dad died in that accident. So it just kept escalading out, and its still there today. That's not much of an answer, but thatís our answer.
AJ: During the move, was it hard to leave or did in a way the move alleviate some of the pain?
RH: No, it was hard to leave. It still is. People that-that went to--when you're dealing with a couple of thousand of people, you know-and you know most of them, and you know that you may not--your not friends or family--but you know you may not see them again; and the next time you hear about them. They're-they're dead and so thatís going on today, so it's-it's. What was the question? Was it hard to move?
AJ: Was it hard to leave Sanderson after the accident?
RH: Yes we had to negotiate--another part of my job is-is. People lived there because they wanted to. So, part of the-the at least with the railroad people had to go set conditions on how they left. That was another--all this was going on at the same time. So, a couple of hundred families had to go say--selling their house, or how much they would be compensated for their homes. And all the conditions surrounding it, Sherry and I neither one wanted to leave, but you know. The answer was yes. It was hard to leave, but now it was just a--there's just a remnant of a town there. Of course the railroad moving just moved--just murdered it after ten years of being a terminal so...
SH: The majority, and when I say majority, I would say probably at least 97 percent of the people that needed to make the choice of where they were going to go--not would they because they needed to keep their jobs--did not want to move. That was their choice. They were there because the enjoyed living in a small community, and so it was a heart ache for most everyone concerned. Besides the loss of these family members or coworkers or friends whatever; and it just kinda escaladed from there. And then unknown, and there were some instances like that their are people that don't act very nice. They focused just on me and what--how could this--what am I going to get, and I didnít get as much as so and so; but it-it was hard, and then like my children. You know my daughter can remember living in other places there in Sanderson, but my son never lived in another house. You know that was the home they grew up in--they knew. And, you know people moved constantly, but when you been a person that you just kinda stay right there. So they-they had roots that they had a hard, to--you know knowing that that was not their home anymore. I mean they moved on. I had a hard time moving, and I think most people did have a hard time; and now when you go back. The community isn't--you know its wonderful to see people, and most of the people there are, you know, retired. Some of them still work you know like with the county or the school, but the major population is elderly; and the town its kinda died. And its sad to see the death of a community.
AJ: How long had you all been in Sanderson?
RH: Sherry all of her life, and of course me since I was eighteen. we lived there as-as a married couple, 27 years?
SH: Yeah. I had been, other than you know a couple of years military and living in Alpine, 42 years somethin'--I'd been there a long time.
AJ: How have the railroads impacted your marriage?
SH: Well it depends on what day you're asking us. If he's...
RH: Today its not impacting it very well 'cause I'm exhausted. Or--I just came in on a two day and two night trip-- mainly a two night trip. So I'm usually not in the--I'm real short with answers and irritable, and its just the lack of sleep. I'm actually a fun type of person.
SH: But we've learned. I--we donít say a lot unless its necessary when I know heís real tired. You know I'll-I visit with him some, but Iíll kinda let him be. You know, and then, when he gets rested. How the railroad impacted our marriage? was that your question?
AJ: Yes maíam.
SH: Okay. Men have to learn to not really be around for different things that go on in the family or the community, because they never know when theyíre going to be here; or theyíre not be here. If they specifically need to be at a certain place at a certain time, then they consider--they layoff on vacation or they just layoff, and when you just layoff, with no compensation, that means you donít get paid.
RH: Adding to that, when I take myself and donít go to work I donít lose one day. I lose a minimum of three days and sometimes four. Thatís why its if I-if we had a--when our children were--if we had birthdays or anniversaries even Thanksgiving or Christmas, I could not tell you if I would be there, because again you canít take off for everything. Football games, basketball games, soccer--we didnít have soccer. So I was thinking about my grandkids, but our kids did everything. They were very active in everything. So there was always something going on, but was I there--able to be there for all of it? No-no so how has it impacted our marriage? Probably in a negative way in that sense, but its also put allot of beans on our table too so.
SH: Most railroad wives had to learn to be pretty independent, to handle things, because you never knew if your husband would be there to take care of stuff. And so, in a way, its good and in another way it might cause a little conflict, because if the woman wants to be too independent. It doesnít work, but I will say the times that we had some major crises in our lives in a marriage, in our childrenís growing up years. God saw that he was always there. He was not you know 300 miles away. He was always there to handle--to help handle stuff. Which I appreciate that, because it would have been very had to handle car wrecks and things like that with him way off.
AJ: Were you ever able or did you become accustomed to the different change in schedule?
RH: No. I wished--I always thought--and Iíll never have one, but i always thought how wonderful it would be to sleep all night and get up and go to a job in the day time and have the weekends off. How wonderful that would be. But Iíll never-I never have had that, and I never will. So I darn near accept that. Its not that I like-- that if I retire...its not that I donít what to go anywhere or do anything. I look forward to sleeping in my bed at night.
SH: And then Iíll know if heís going to be home if we have something planned. You know, you never know this is what he told me when we were first married. Because I just I didnít think that I ought to cook or really plan on cooking, because I never knew if he was going to be there. And then when he was there, I started planning to cook. And he said no you plan a meal, and he said you kinda figure that I might be home within three or four--he said you can start cooking, and said and then if Iím not home for a day or two. He said give it away or throw it out. I had kinda a hard time adjusting to planning meals for someone that might not show up for five or six hours or whatever, but Iíve learned to kinda make some plans after nearly forty years.
AJ: How do you all see that the railroads have impacted the surrounding communities?
RH: Well if you watch the--live in Del Rio--if you watch the San Antonio news, San Antonio hates the railroads. As far as our-as far as major big towns like San Antonio. Our sons in management. He talks--weíre in 26 states and he talks about other big places. And he says that his bosses tell him that no place is like San Antonio as far as negative politicians and media that-that play up around the railroad. As long as they have railroads theyíre going to have derailments; and trains are going to hit automobiles and trucks; and people are going to die; and things are going to happen, but without it, things cannot move. So, donít even want to call it a necessary evil. Its just part of it, but San Antonio, they go a step beyond as far as-as far as not liking the railroad there, but the railroads arenít going away. San Antonio might go away, but the railroad is not going away.
SH: Most, not all, but most of the towns and cities that build up from Louisiana, Florida, whatever to California and everything, were because of the railroads coming in; and as technology advanced, and they didnít need as many men. Well you know, Langtry use to big. And you know they had crews there, and they had a depot. Every place had a depot, and they had clerks and operators and track crews; and at Pumpville--it was a pump house where the trains stopped and watered--and they had--the railroads provided homes, and they had families. The fathers worked on the tracks and stuff. You know, and they go so many miles out and stuff. You had Dryden, Sanderson, and Marathon, and Alpine and Marcos, and Valentine; and well see you have these little towns like Valentine--you probably never heard of that Valentine, Texas, but they had a school and basketball teams and stuff. Well those towns--there really isnít even anyone there now because of technology. When you pull the railroad employees out, a lot of the railroad communities die, but the railroad is--it does impact the communities. You donít hear a lot of good publicity about Union Pacific, but they do contribute. I know they--when the Ď98 flood in Del Rio--there was some of their employees. Their homes were damaged, and they contacted Ronnie and said let them know that thereís money available for them at a low interest rate. You know however they wanted to work it to-to repair or what they needed to do to get a home back for their men. And they hauled in drinking water and donated it to the schools, because we couldnít drink the water; and they do like to do things in a positive way for the communities where their employees live. And a lot of times, you donít here the positive side of it, but then also theyíre a big corporation and they like the bottom line.
AJ: What strange encounters have you had while working for the railroads? [Snickers]
SH: The train.
RH: Oh yeah, the story I told you yesterday. Iíve had literally thousands of-of strange encounters but one was the-- most side tracks and most trains are between one mile and a mile and a half so theyíll fit into the sidetracks so another train can past. And a train went into an emergency, and I was a brakeman not to long after I hired out. And this train was about a mile and a half long over around Marford, Texas. And it was about the center of the train. It be about three quarters of a mile up mostly on empty train, and I walked up; and we had busted a knuckle on the train. So thatís why the train went into an emergency, and as I was waiting on the head brakeman to walk up--and we were going to the side to have to put it back together. And to replace the knuckle, and I heard a faint beating on something. I didnít know what--some muffled sounds and I kept trying to figure out what the sounds--since we werenít around anything, and the car that had broken that the knuckle, had busted on--finally I figured out that the sounds were coming from that car. And I slid the door--it was a box car--and I slid the door open, and there were two fellas in there that had been there since Houston--been in there at least a couple of days without water or food or any help. And I consider that as an act of God busting that knuckle at that time that he wanted those fellas to be used in some other way. And for me to open that door, and which I did. But I donít know if Iíd keep calling it a strange encounter, but it was an encounter. So Iím sure they were glad to get out, and I was happy to let them out. That was just one. Which one did I tell you before? Do you want the railroad bandit?
RH: Okay. I forgot what the media called this fella. Do yaíll remember?
SH: The Rail Road Murderer.
SH: His name was Recendez.
RH: I forgot. It wasnít Rail Road Murderer. The guy that was going, riding freight trains up and down the railroad and getting off in different places and killing people for what ever, robbing them. His last name was Recendez, and somebody had post a picture up at the depot in Del Rio of this guy. And, I kinda glanced at it; and my train showed up; and I departed. And, we got up passed between Langtry and Sanderson out in the middle of nowhere, and we headed into a sidetrack. And, we were going to be there awhile, and I was just walking along the side of the locomotive. And, I saw a guy walking along up from the train, and he was--he didnít look like a transient or a hobo whatever you want to call it--guys that are trying to get somewhere riding the freight trains. Because the freight trains--if you ride on an empty box car, you were going to be getting very dirty very fast. And, he had on a semi clean white shirt, and he walks up to me. And I asked him if he spoke English, and he said yes he did. And, I asked if wanted any water. My wife tells me I told her he said no, he wanted something to eat. Well, I didnít have anything to eat, but as Iím looking at him he matches the picture that I looked at some hours before, not too many hours before. And, I said thatís this guy Recendez, and as IĎm talking to him, heís climbing up--I think I had four locomotives--on the rear locomotive. I asked him not to get up there. It was not legal for him to do that, but he just kinda looked at me and went on up anyway ready to fight; but I wasnít going to wrestle him. So, I went back to the lead engine, and got on what we call PBX at a different radio frequency radio channels and called them and told them that I thought I had this guy Recendez on the train. And with law enforcement--they set something up, and I would stop the train in Sanderson and see in fact thatís who this is. And, when I pulled in I didnít see anybody, but when I stopped, they had plenty of help and descended on this engine. And, a long-a long period of time for me-probably about ten or fifteen minutes went on, and then I see them taking this guy off horizontally, cuffed, and everything. Evidentially they scuffled with him, and once they got him off, I went on to my destination which was Alpine .And, I called back to the sheriffís department in Sanderson-since I knew the sheriff-and asked him was this in fact the guy Recendez. His comment to me was after running the finger prints that no, he was not, but then he told me--he said--but he looks exactly like him. And, come to find out, he was wanted in Mexico for some other-whatever it was; but it was not Recendez. So, we thought we had the Railroad Bandit on our train, but we didnít. So that-that was interesting.
AJ: Looking back over the years how do you all view the many experiences you have come through?
SH: A journey. That-I feel like that we probably have been fortunate to have a lot of interesting colorful events in our lives and I...
Sherry Hall: You were asking about the-the journey, and I said that I feel like that we had a very interesting journey through life. Iíve experienced allot of unusual things that not everyone experiences during their-during their life. And, I use allot of these, 'cause I enjoy sharing with students that Iíve had or my grandchildren. Iím reel big into history. I love the history, and going back. And, you know where my grandparents--Iíve traveled to Massachusetts, because my grandfather's family were--they were. He was Bradford, and he was related to William Bradford. Ad so, Iíve gone through cemeteries and done all that stuff. So, Iíve-I enjoy allot of the history and the experiences and stuff. And, when youíre 14,15 years old or 25 years old, you donít realize that what youíre experiencing is-is going to be history. And, I know that I saw the stock pens. They had stock pens in Sanderson at-at every depot place where the train stopped. My grandfather worked--counted. He was the counter for the railroad. And when they hauled in the sheep or the livestock--because they counted them, and weighed them, and loaded them-loaded them on boxcars. And, that's how they hauled them up and down. You know the buyers, they went by boxcar. Well they don't do that anymore. They tore down the stock pens. And, my grandfather was shot by a bandit at that same time. In fact, it was a month before, that Sanderson experienced a devastating flood that washed allot of the down town away. My mother and I didn't realize what we were watching from our front porch, but they kinda leapt up. And, we could see big--we weren't sure what they were floating down like main street, but it was big wool sacks where the-the flood had washed the walls out of the wool and mohair--where the ranchers had brought their wool and mohair. And I, you know, experienced that and I-I've seen allot of changes; and I've enjoyed allot of events that have taken place in my life that are very memorable to me. So, its been a very pleasant journey, and God leads us where we never thought weíd go; but we find that there is a reason for us to be where he wants us to be. Ronnie Hall: What's the question?
Alfred Jones: Looking back over the years, how do you all view the many experiences that you have come through?
RH: My personal experiences in-in my adolescence prior to meeting Sherry and you know, seems like I met people before that like to--they like to tell the worse poor boy stories, and sometimes I listen to them. And I said I can beat any poor boy story you got. And my chance, not chance--I was placed in situations and localities that somebody with my upbringing--and where I started from. I guess, if I were to say anything, it was a total blessing because I could have go so many other directions being placed in the way--influenced by negative undesirable people. But I wasnít. I feel blessed that the situation that Iím in-that Iím in now. And being tired as I am right--its hard for me to feel blessed, but Iím-Iím happy with the situation. I donít want to say happy with the situation. Its not a situation. Iím happy where Iím at in my life. Thatís a week answer, but I guess Iím done with that.
AJ: Well Iíd like to thank you both for your time and sharing with me your history.
SH: Well thank you for asking us. We enjoyed it, and you know I like to talk. So anyway, we do...
RH: I do too, but Iím having trouble thinking; and forgive me for that Iím not as talkative as I was the other day, but...