University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Danhouse, Carl W. / The life story of Carl W. Danhouse

Chapter three,   pp. 15-21 PDF (2.6 MB)

Page 15

During the first World War the railroad couldn't find
enough men to work on the section, replacing rails and ties,
straightening rails and leveling them so they hired high school
boys. About a dozen of us signed up one summer. We were paid
$3.00 per day and worked six days a week at ten hours a day.
The railroad was a spur of the Soo line out of Appleton
and called the "Wisconsin and Northern" and before prohibition
it was nicknamed the "Whiskey and Northern" but after prohibition
it was known as the "near beer and water line".
At first we worked out of Appleton and covered several miles
north of Appleton. Most of the crew would take the early morning
train north and a couple of us were designated to pump the hand
cars to the work area. We had a main boss and a straw boss. The
boss seldom spoke to us, he went ahead to see what work had to be
done and then told the straw boss what had to be done. The straw
boss was a real slave driver and we all hated him.
For the first two weeks I would eat supper and fall into
bed completely exhausted. I would dream of this guy all night and
be tired in the morning. I finally decided I had to stand up to
him or quit the job. I figured behind his bravado he was a coward.
I talked to the other boys and they felt the same way. So we
decided to stand up to him and all stand together. So the next
time he started to get rough we all ganged up on him and told him
to lay off or we would beat hell out of him. Just then the real
boss came along and wanted to know what the fuss was about. We
told him we had had it with the straw boss. He turned to him and
told him that hereafter he was to give us our instructions and see
that the work was done but no more bullying would be allowed. He
told us if we had any further complaints we should come directly
to him. After that we got along very well.

Go up to Top of Page