Saturday, April 30, 2011

Final Poem to Wrap Up Poetry Month

John Luther ("Casey") Jones died today in 1900. He was an American railroad engineer from Jackson, Tennessee, who worked for the Illinois Central Railroad (IC). On April 30, 1900, he alone was killed when his passenger train, the "Cannonball Express," collided with a stalled freight train at Vaughan, Mississippi, on a foggy and rainy night.


by: Wallace Saunders

COME all you rounders, for I want you to hear,
The story of a brave engineer.
Casey Jones was the rounder's name.
On a big eight wheeler of a mighty fame.

Caller called Casey 'bout half-past four,
He kissed his wife at the station door,
Climbed to the cab with the orders in his hand,
He says, "This is my trip to the holy land."

Out of South Memphis yard on the fly,
Heard the fireman say, "You got a white eye."
Well, the switchmen knew by the engine moan
That the man at the throttle was Casey Jones.

The rain was comin' down five or six weeks.
The railroad track was like the bed of a creek.
They slowed her down to a thirty mile gait
And the south-bound mail was eight hours late.

Fireman says, "Casey, you're runnin' too fast,
You run that block board the last station you passed."
Casey says, "I believe we'll make it though,
For she steams a lot better than I ever know."

Casey says, "Fireman, don't you fret,
Keep knockin' at the fire door, don't give up yet,
I'm going to run her till she leaves the rail,
Or make it on time with the south-bound mail."

Around the curve and down the dump,
Two locomotives was a bound to jump,
Fireman hollered, "Casey, it's just ahead,
We might jump and make it but we'll all be dead."

Around the curve comes a passenger train,
Casey blows the whistle, tells the fireman, "Ring the bell,"
Fireman jumps and says "Good-bye,
Casey Jones, You're bound to die."

Well Casey Jones was all right.
He stuck to his duty day and night.
They loved his whistle and his ring number three,
And he come into Memphis on the old I.C.

Fireman goes down the depot track,
Begging his honey to take him back,
She says, "Oranges on the table, peaches on the shelf,
You're a goin' to get tired sleepin' by yourself."

Mrs. Casey Jones was a sittin' on the bed.
Telegram comes that Casey is dead.
She says, "Children, go to bed, and hush your cryin',
'Cause you got another papa on the Frisco line."

Headaches and heartaches and all kinds of pain.
They ain't apart from a railroad train.
Stories of brave men, noble and grand,
Belong to the life of a railroad man.


Uncle Paul said...

Just an add on here.. the Casey Jones poem is also a song that I learned in elementary school.

Casey Jones' hometown of Jackson, TN is located between Nashville & Memphis on I-40. If you want to make a nerdy, Griswold Vacation stop, pull off at Jackson. There's a place dedicated to Casey. All kinds of junk for sale, and you can tour his boyhood home. That's about the only famous claim there is to Jackson.

Howard said...

We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout,
We've been talkin' 'bout Jackson, ever since the fire went out.
I'm goin' to Jackson, I'm gonna mess around,
Yeah, I'm goin' to Jackson,
Look out Jackson town.

Johnny Cash "Jackson"

Uncle Paul said...

One more trivial thing about Casey. In the late 50's early 60's there was (what I thought) a great TV series "The Adventures of Casey Jones". The star, who played Casey Jones was non-other than Alan Hale, Jr. (the skipper from Gilligan). The comedy relief was Dub Taylor. The theme song (as in the poem) was sung by Burl Ives.

It was basically a shoot em up Western... train robberies, bandits, etc.

There would always be a scene where they'd have to stop the train for some emergency. Casey would sweat and strain as he pulled back the big steel throttle. Then you'd see and hear the big steam engine wheels screaming to go backwards, against the forward force of the train. Amazing how they always got it to stop just in time. Thankfully, The Cannonball Express never did run over the body of "dear Nell".

Uncle Paul said...

The Johnny Cash song "Jackson" is referring to Jackson, Mississippi.

And that's our geography lesson for today.