Stories

An Excerpt from the Memoirs of Edd Bailey

by Debora Jones

Edd Bailey was my Great-Great Uncle, whom I just recently learned was an integral part of your organization as President of UP. I have an excerpt from his personal memoirs to share, detailing how his career began working for Union Pacific:

"Getting an education didn’t come easy on the Dryland. The girls in our family did much better at it than the boys. The first two years I walked about 2 1/2 miles to the northwest of our place. Later years, I have always said, through the cactus and soap weeds, barefooted. The truth is, the road, just a faint wagon trail, wasn't very much better and in the winter when I did have shoes. About the third year we were there, our district built a school house (The Sunny Ridge) about 1 1/4 miles across country from our place.

I cannot say that I really enjoyed school. Pauline loved it. She caught up with me before we were out of grade school. We finished high school together. I don’t remember starting at the beginning of the term after about 5th grade - too much farm work to do, and I didn't really care. Pauline would just say, 'Well I should either start on time or quit.'

She was always very good at defending me both at home and at school. One time when I had to stay after school 30 minutes, she talked back and was sassy to the teacher and we both had to stay in. Pauline always felt free to talk up to Dad. I found I couldn't get by with it.

Early in the fall of the years of 1921 and 1922, Dad took me to the wheat harvest with him to Kellcy, Colo., 20 miles south of Sterling, giving me a chance to pick up some money for school.

The first part of August 1922, the carmen went on strike on western railroads. Uncle Ernest had left the Dryland a year or maybe three ahead of that, and was head of the Car Department in Cheyenne. He called us, suggesting we come to Cheyenne to work. I think Dad thought me too young. He left me in the harvest field, and went to Cheyenne.

He called me in several days and said come on up and hire out on the railroad. 'You can make $8.82 per day (12 hours).' I left the harvest and started with UPRR August 22, 1922. I worked there until October 1, then went back to Keota High School. I should add that after Pauline and I started to high school in Keota, we would return over the weekend to help out. During the week Flora, Lydetta, Weldon, Ellis and James were mother’s helpers.

I recall that with the railroad, when we worked two 12-hour shifts (double-over they termed it), you made more than $30.00. I had more than $400.00 and needless to say, I was in 'the upper bracket.' I have always felt that Dad and Uncle Ernest were responsible for my becoming a RR man.

Dad stayed with the railroad and in 1924 moved the family to Cheyenne. He felt we had farmed the Dryland long enough. City life was some change."

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1
1920-1924
Historical Events, Family, Working at UP
Cheyenne, WY-, CO
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