After the last post on Day Tower at Enola's South End, I received an email from a gentleman sharing a story about his grandfather who worked Day Tower as a block operator. He was gracious enough to allow me to share these reflections with everyone here. For me it is a great pleasure to have people reach out and share experiences like this, giving me and the photographs a connection the late great Pennsylvania Railroad! Enjoy!
My name is Ronald Busey, and I am grandson of the late “Brownie” Ernst (Maurice H. Ernst) who for many years thru the mid 1900’s served as South End block operator for Enola Yard at Day Tower. His “leverman” was Garnet Largent.
I practically “grew up” with trains during summer weeks at my grandparents lodgings … from early 1940’s it was at Lemoyne, PA ( How I remember “Lemo Tower” there) … and later it was at Summerdale, PA (west of Enola’s north end)
I “smiled” when I read your inclusion that at some point in Day’s history, it was thought a train might have destroyed Day Tower. My Granddad was in the tower the day a “motor” pulling hopper cars bore down on the tower. Either the motor or one or more hoppers derailed partially, tearing off a portion of the upper level. My Granddad saw it coming and made a fast exit down the stairs and out the back of the tower. I heard about this in the aftermath. I was not “fortunate” enough to have been there to add that one to my memory. My Granddad came home in Summerville that day after shift, to my Grandmother’s exclaim “What has happened, you’re white as a sheet” he replied “I fled a damned motor that took out part of the tower and after I got off work I stopped at Ricky’s (local tavern in Enola) for a couple of beers and then I came home”.
Not long in history after that came the push for CTC and my late Granddad became emotionally despondent when left without a leverman and eventually left his position on medical disability, no longer having strength to throw the levers.
One of my favorite moments in Day was the occasion when the head North Enola dispatcher happened to get on the phone to my Granddad, who was taking a couple of minutes to heat a pot of coffee. The “north-ender" was complaining about something and I heard my Granddad tell him “mind your own business, I’m running this yard down here”.
How it happened I yet do not know, but on the dedication day for Lemo at Strasburg, PA, I was there thru a special invite received. I had a chance to give a testimonial for my Granddad. When the ceremony ended, who walked up to me and tapped my shoulder but Garnet Largent! I hadn’t seen him in over 40+ years.
Speaking of Lemo Tower, we will continue our tour of the Harrisburg Terminal next week picking up with Lemo Tower in Lemoyne Pennsylvania, just a few miles south of Enola yard.