My Father, Bill Rankin, a second generation railroader, began his career in 1949 in the Missouri Pacific Freight Claim Department in Palestine, Texas. In 1960, he was transferred to Harlingen, Texas, as Claim Agent. Harlingen was a relatively small town in the Rio Grande Valley in deep south Texas about 30 miles north of the U.S. border with Mexico. Dad loved people. He joined the MoPac Booster Club and helped organize family friendly events. Many of the railroaders in the Rio Grande Valley belonged to the Booster Club and participated in these events with their families. I recall the Christmas Parties held in the MoPac Depot. There was always wonderful food and games for everyone. Santa Claus would make an appearance, likely with the help of a Brakeman or Trackman. I grew up knowing many of the children of other railroad employees. I went to school and played little league baseball with them. Like myself, some of them later went to work for the railroad.
In the 1950s, during the Korean War, my Dad served in the Texas National Guard for ten years. He was a Mess Sergeant, in charge of cooking for a large number of soldiers. He used those skills in the booster club. I recall July Fourth celebrations at South Padre Island. The MoPac Booster Club would reserve the entire Beach Pavillion for the event, and Dad and some of the other parents would fry fish for hundreds of people who would participate in the event. My siblings and I would play all day with the children of other Booster Club Members on the Padre Island Beach. Those are some of the most fond memories that I have of my childhood as a member of a railroad family.