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This Week Story 10/24 Part One, Charlie's First Job

Gandie Dancer, What is a Gandie Dancer?

  Charlie Enters a New World

950 Words, Reading Time 5 to 10 Minutes

The Shadow, At the age of 18, after spending the summer fighting forest fires, Charlie would leave home on his first adventure. He would be working as a "Gandie Dancer" on a railroad crew at Divernon, Illinois. He would be 200 miles from his farm home, his new wife, child, and his parents, Charlie & Ruth.

An only child, living close to his family all his life, is preparing to go out on his own. An 18 year old farm boy that had spent the last six years living on a farm five miles from the town of Sesser. 

You might same this was a young man. But, in the eyes of his family, he was an inexperienced child out in a world of cruel people, which is what this young man is about to find out. Charlie was about to become a Time Traveler, traveling from one world he knew into a world of the unknown.

Lesson One in the New World

The belief of The Time Traveler at this time is everyone must work. Work is not just for the money, but it is a part of life.

He was an idealist, believing the dignity of humankind is in working, providing or contributing to the betterment of all humankind. What every he would be doing, he would be doing the best job he could.

Sonny as his friends knew him had a close friend known as Gene. He told Gene he was going to sign up for a job on the railroad. Gene also was a farm boy and lived with his parents just a half mile down the road from Sonny.

Gene also had just finished High school wanted a job. Gene asks the Time Traveler if he could go with him and work as a Gandhi Dancer on the railroad.

So what is a Gandhi Dancer? The truth is neither of these young men knew what a Gandhi Dancer was or what they done on the Rail Road, but it was a job, it was easy to get, and you did not need any skills.

Early on a Friday morning in June. Sonny and Gene loaded what they thought they would need in the trunk of Sonny's 1937 Chevrolet Coupe. Then after saying good byes to their families, they were on their way into the new world of experiences.

These young adventures travel most of the day. It was 225 miles to Springfield Illinois, the State Capitol. Their plan was to visit all the tourist sites about Abraham Lincoln before reporting to work at the little town of Divernon 20 miles south of Springfield on Monday.

Neither Sonny nor Gene had very much money to spend. They felt all they would only need money for was gas for the car and food for the weekend. You see their new job would include a place to sleep and food to eat as well as paying them for working.

Their food for the weekend would be sandwiches from home and a couple gallons of water. They were on the State Fair Grounds sitting at a picnic table eating in the late evening. After a long day of travel and visiting the sites in Springfield, they would sleep in the trunk space of Sonny's old Chevy.

Sonny's car was a business coupe; it had a front seat for two and a large covered trunk space for hauling business items. The trunk was six feet long allowing Sonny and Gene to lie and sleep in it overnight.

After the weekend visit in Springfield, Sonny and Gene would arrive in Divernon in the dark, about three Monday morning. The work site was in a cornfield at the edge of town. 

There was a sidetrack with a half dozen red colored old boxcars and a couple of old passenger train cars on it. When they arrived, there was a group of maybe 75 to 80 men standing outside the old rail cars.

About six, just at daylight a yellow pickup truck drives up to the site. A heavyset man dressed in a blue work shirt, blue jeans with red suspenders, wearing a yellow hardhat steps out of the truck.

He goes to one of the old passenger train cars and as he steps up onto the platform on the back and yells out "All those who want to work, line up and sign in inside." Then he goes inside the old train car.

The men that where standing around begins running toward the passenger car and climbing up the steps to sign in. It was noon before Sonny and Gene signed in. They were given an old army blanket and told they would sleep in car three. Car three was one of the old red boxcars they saw when they drove up early that morning.

They were told they would start work tomorrow morning at eight and their meals would be served at six in the morning and six in the evening. They would start work at seven in the morning and the shift would end at five in the afternoon. For now, that was all Sonny and Gene was told.

Well, Sonny and Gene have a job, a place to sleep and food to eat, but they do not know how much they will be paid, and when. Most of all they do not know what kind of work they will be doing.

All this is new to these two young men who have entered a new world of people and the way they do things. To Sonny and Gene this must be normal; it is just the way people do things.