Bill Todd -- Klaus: A Railway Novel
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 Chapter 29

The Home Front

Cincinnati, January 7, 1942

The first month of war made little obvious difference in Cincinnati. The people, the stores, and the neighborhoods all looked the same. Men were already being drafted before the war, and they were now joined by a stream of volunteers. However, the armed forces couldn't induct them as fast as they came, and most of them were still around town. While a few factories added a shift, thus increasing the flow of Appalachian mountineers to the city, Cincinnati was well used to them by this time. A few more could always be packed into the communities straggling up the hills.

There had been a few casualties. The first was a sailor aboard the Arizona, and the second was Erich Stuhlenkamp. Each was news, and there were newspaper interviews with the bereaved families. The prominent railway investor, Klaus Seydlitz, made a dignified statement about his cousin Erich. Mrs. Seydlitz, in an interview so garbled by the reporter that it hardly made sense, seemed quite affected. The one thing that came through clearly was her intention to devote herself, heart and soul, to the war effort.

More important was what was happening in the railway yards. The wartime traffic had not, so far, increased very much, but the little additional volume was already causing problems. On the 7th, a Tuesday, the Southern had more interchange traffic for the B & O than could be accommodated on the transfer tracks. The overflow then blocked a line normally used to marshall the noon freight to Parkersburg, West Virginia.

The former Ivorydale yardmaster, Fearless Frankie Scrutt, might have been able to improvise, but his successor had less imagination. The freight left two hours late, and, missing its normal time slot, spent an extra two hours in passing tracks along the line.

Since the train arrived four hours late, and the same engine and crew were to bring it back the next day, they did well to start only three hours late. By dint of hard steaming, they made up another half hour when they reached Madeira on the eastern edge of Cincinnati. However, they then had to wait for some Pennsylvania passenger trains which used the B & O tracks. They lost the half hour they had made up, and then some. Even after they deposited their train in the crowded yards along Mill Creek, there was further trouble.

The next day, Wednesday, there was an extra freight from St. Louis, arriving in Cincinnati on the B & O's Ohio and Mississippi division. Thus, two additional engines arrived at the roundhouse at a time when its crew was already worked to capacity. This led to further delays in outgoing freights.

The situation wasn't finally resolved until Saturday night. Then, with men working overtime, enough freights were dispatched in the small hours, closer together than the rules permitted, to get rid of the backlog of cars accumulating in the Brighton and Storrs yards. On Sunday, the Storrs yardmaster, having a beer down on River Road, encountered the yardmaster of the New York Central's Riverside Yard. The former, pouring out his troubles, discovered that they were nothing compared with those of the latter.

The Southern Railway Freight Office, Gest St., Cincinnati, January 14, 1942

Mr. Paul Harker, the superintendant, paced nervously around his office and stared out into the rain. It was coming down even harder now. One blessing was that it would soon wash away the patches of ice and snow that remained from the storm of the previous week. Driving would be easier, and he'd be able to find a clear parking space somewhere near his home in Price Hill.

On the other hand, despite his umbrella and coat, his shoes and trouser legs would get soaked and dirty as he walked across the hundred yards of icy mud to his car. He was wondering idly whether he could ask one of the freight agents to bring his car to the door when his assistant, Joe Loomis, burst in. Loomis was quite upset.

"We can't just let this situation drift, Paul. We've got to do something very soon. Certainly before tonight."

Mr. Harker's immediate and automatic response was always to soothe anyone who was upset, and to make light of the difficulties.

Paul Harker had gotten where he was by being a good salesman. He had started as a freight agent back in 1931 when, as a result of the depression, the Southern's freight business had dropped sixty per cent. But he, and others like him, had tirelessly gone from town to town, making contacts, standing beers, and often wheedling and cajoling. Even if a back country concern could only ship enough to fill one box car a month, he had still gone after the account as if it had been U. S. Steel. Harker had improved his performance every single year, and the business had gradually straggled back.

As head agent, Harker was as successful in supervising salesmen as he had previously been at selling. Some detractors argued that the tonnage was increasing automatically as the nation recovered from the depression, and that no special credit was due to the sales force. But it was hard to argue with success, and Harker received another promotion.

Since he had already reached the highest position in the sales force, this new promotion gave Harker many new responsibilities for which he hadn't been trained. However, it was pointed out that promotion beyond a certain level always meant that a man had to grow and master new skills.

As superintendant of all freight operations in Cincinnati for the Southern Railway, Harker was expected to educate himself concerning the many operational problems involving three freight yards, a mass of trackage shared with other railways, an intricate and demanding schedule, and floods that occurred almost annually. Some men would have been daunted, but Harker had barely raised an eyebrow.

In his new position he still paid more attention to sales than to anything else, but he had been sagacious enough to choose an assistant, Joe Loomis, whose experience was entirely in operations. Even so, when things went badly, he had a tendency to treat Loomis as if were an angry customer.

There were, at the back of Harker's mind, some disquieting messages from Southern headquarters that had been addressed to him. They concerned certain missing shipments that no one had been able to trace. He was instructed to personally take charge of a search for them.

Harker didn't like the tone of those instructions. However, until now, he had intended to show them to Loomis and have him find what was missing. The shipments were contained in some dozen cars, probably tucked away on one of the yard tracks. But now it was out of the question. Loomis was too upset already. If he knew about those telegrams, he might fly entirely off the handle.

As much to get away from Loomis as anything, Harker wandered out into the outer office with Loomis at his back. The large room was ringed by a half dozen old wooden desks, one for each of the freight agents, and a counter at the end facing the front door. The two secretaries sat behind it with their typewriters, pausing to answer the telephone. Besides the secretaries, only two agents were present. The rest, as was proper, were out drumming up business.

The two agents were at nearby desks, both on the telephone. Harker went over and stood between them. Despite the drumming of rain on the roof and a slow-moving freight thumping past the window, he could clearly hear one end of each conversation.

Harker had found that he could tell, simply from the tone of an agent's voice, whether he was doing his job well. On the left was Doug Hallowell, a comfortable looking rather stocky man in his mid-thirties. Harker liked him, mostly because of his voice. It was profound, with the accents of deepest Tennessee, and rumbled soothingly along, like the train outside. Hallowell moved and talked slowly enough to make a customer comfortable, but could be surprisingly quick when it came time to sign him up.

On the right was a younger man, Hal Kedzie. A thin nervous youngster right out of school, Kedzie was very much the eager-beaver type. Harker wasn't so sure about him. He could imagine some of their shippers being put off. But, then again, Kedzie addressed almost everyone as "sir," and projected a strong desire to help. In any case, his record was good, almost as good as Hallowell's. None, of course, approached the sales records Harker had himself set as a freight agent.

Uncomfortable because Loomis was still muttering behind him, Harker glanced over at the wooden plaque on the wall, on which the records were posted. He was in the process of gloating when, with a shock, he took in Hallowell's words.

"I'm afraid you don't understand, Mr. Thompson. We'll still be happy to pick up your cars, but ..."

Dead wrong, that tone. Then it came on again,

"If you give us three cars for three different destinations in a single day, we have to switch them all over the yards and hold up trains ..."

Harker was on the point of ripping the phone away from Hallowell and telling his customer that they would be delighted to do whatever was required when he heard Kedzie's rather nasal voice.

"You're only about forty miles from the Cincinnati produce markets, Mr. Quayle. You could ship your vegetables in by truck, sir. It would probably be quicker and cheaper, sir."

Harker had never expected to hear such words from anyone in his employ. Then, almost in unison, he heard from both agents,

"There's a war on."

It was that statement, coming from both at once, that made Mr. Harker realize that they had both been instructed to minimize shipments. He rounded angrily on Loomis and demanded an explanation. The latter, only a little defensive, replied,

"These little shippers are killing us. We have to send their cars to a dozen different yards and warehouses every day. Those movements tie up the main lines. That's part of the reason we aren't getting our freights out on time."

Little shippers were the ones dearest to Harker's heart. It often took more real salesmanship to get an order from them than from some massive concern that would have to use the railway as a matter of course. He himself had probably originally signed up some of the customers now being turned away. Barely able to control his temper, Harker now replied,

"I've seen millions of operational crises come and go, but, if we once lose those shippers to trucking lines, we'll never get them back."

Loomis, also making an obvious attempt to control himself, answered,

"I'm sure that's true. But the stakes are now so high that it hardly makes any difference. In a matter of a week, if not days, we'll have to cut off any shipper who can deliver his goods any other way. In fact, I want to tell the division right now that they'll have to combine some passenger trains if we're to keep the freight moving."

This, again, was anathema to Harker. The one lesson he had learned best of all was never to cry for help. Any number of times, he had been given impossible sales targets. He had always responded positively, assuring his superiors that they would be met. He then did his best.

Most often, the targets were simply forgotten by the end of the reporting period. If not, and faced by the fact that Harker had outsold everyone else, his superiors were willing to admit that they had been unrealistic. But it would have been fatal to have said so at the beginning.

It would be the same now if he were to tell them that he couldn't handle his job. The reply would surely be, "If you can't do it, we'll replace you with someone who can." Patiently, Harker tried to explain this to Loomis. He hoped the other man would understand. If so, he might even be able to get him to trace those missing cars. Loomis responded, almost sympathetically, but determinedly.

"In ten minutes we'll have another freight coming in. There's no room for it in the yard."

Loomis gestured to the main Southern Railway classification yard lying just beyond them. He then continued,

"There's also no room in the Ludlow Yard across the river. The Erlanger Yard is almost full and it's too far away. We can't get cars to and from it without tying up the Erlanger Hill grade, the most critical stretch of track in the whole system."

Harker found himself asking what they were going to do. The other said,

"I've already borrowed some space from the Big Four in their Riverside Yard. We've got some fifty northbound cars down there. Most of them are probably blocked in on their sidings by now. At some point, we've got to get them back, classify them, and transfer them to the right northbound roads. But, just now, I've got to clear space in our own yard. I've got a whole transfer cut of eighty cars already to send to the N & W at Ivorydale Junction, and I want your permission to send it. The dispatcher already has it on his card."

"You don't need my permission. That's routine."

"It would be, except that not more than half those cars are really routed to the N & W. By the time they discover it, we'll have a hole in our yard for the incoming freight. Of course, that'll mess up their operations, and they'll squawk to you."

It was the first time in a long time that Mr. Harker had given much thought to operations. His first reaction was one of disbelief.

"There must be some other way."

The other man spread his hands and said only,


"Well, we've got to dispatch some southbound freights. Just yank them out of the yard and get them moving."

"The cars aren't classified. Wherever we send a train, most of the cars will be waybilled someplace else. Maybe hundreds of miles away. This way, the misdirected cars will only be over at Clare Yard. Can I send the transfer cut?"

"I guess so."

As Loomis rushed off, Harker went back to his office and sat down. He really couldn't quite grasp what was happening. There had never been a problem quite like this. Even when there had been floods, Loomis had always straightened things out. But there was one thing he did understand.

To knowingly send cars to the wrong destination, even within greater Cincinnati, was a desperation measure. The other railroads would catch on very quickly. It couldn't work for long. He was also beginning to realize why there were missing shipments. Very likely they were in those box cars which Loomis had sent down to the Big Four's Riverside Yard. By the sound of things, it might be weeks before they got the cars back. Still, Harker's native optimism wasn't completely gone. He decided to get to the bottom of things.

Just as the incoming freight drifted off the trestle and along the embankment above him, Harker put in a call to the superintendant of motive power across the river in Ludlow. It took them a minute to locate Ernest Meany, out in the engine houses. While he was waiting, Harker went over in his mind what he would say. The problem was that cars weren't being classified, and hence moved out of the yards, fast enough. If Meany could provide another switcher or two, it might make all the difference. When Meany came on the line, he was hearty.

"I've heard all about your problems, Paul, and I bet I know what you're going to ask me."

Somewhat deflated, Harker put his request. Meany responded in a sympathetic tone. He was both a kind man and one who knew that he wouldn't be blamed for the debacle that was shaping up.

"If you want, I'll send you an extra eight-wheeled switcher tonight, even though your yardmaster hasn't requested it. But I'm afraid it won't really do any good. You know, Paul, only so many switching engines can work the yard at the same time without getting in each other's way. The more switchers you have working, the more free tracks there have to be to allow them to pass each other, and to temporarily store cuts of cars while they're sorting them out. Your yard, by now, is probably too full even for the switchers you have."

Harker found himself responding weakly,

"I guess we just don't have enough yard trackage to handle the volume of traffic."

"That's it! There's nothing you or I or anyone else can do. I hear the other roads are having the same problems. And the war's hardly even begun yet."

After hanging up, Harker looked out into the rain. Meany was right. A disaster was slowly and inexorably accumulating right under his nose. It was easy to imagine it. Both tracks of the main line to the south would be blocked with trains, and there would be nothing moving. Trains would have to be backed all over Kentucky, and the flow of war material would be interrupted for a week or more. He could send an emergency signal now. It would be an admission of failure. Or he could wait and hope. He felt like Admiral Kimmel at Pearl Harbor. Whoever's fault it was, he'd be blamed.

The Southern Railway Freight Office, January 19, 1942

Five days had passed since Paul Harker's first realization of the crisis, and he had felt a little better each day. There had been no further peremptory messages from headquarters in Somerset, Kentucky. He instinctively felt that no news was good news. Anything which didn't immediately explode would go away.

But, then, two days previously, something quite good had happened. There had been an extensive derailment some seventy miles south of Cincinnati, with tracks torn up and overturned coal cars blocking the tracks in both directions. Northbound traffic into Cincinnati had slowed to a trickle. Of course, there was still the heavy southbound transfer traffic flowing into Harker's central yard. But, again, a kind chance had come his way, as he had known it would.

By extraordinary good fortune, an independent railway investor, a Mr. Klaus Seydlitz, had opened a transfer yard between the Southern and the L & N at Bellwether, Kentucky. The L & N, already hard pressed, wasn't happy at taking over the extra southbound tonnage. But the Southern was virtually blocked in that direction and there was a war on. The L & N had reluctantly agreed. Harker had promised to do as much for them some day.

The derailment gave them a breathing spell in Cincinnati. Freights were run regularly the twenty miles to Bellwether, the engines returning with only their cabooses. By dint of switching all night, cars which had been intentionally sent to the wrong yards in Cincinnati were recovered and sorted out.

Harker was at his best in soothing and mollifying the angry N & W, Pennsylvania, and B & O yardmasters. He mentioned the missing shipments to Joe Loomis, who agreed that they were most probably in the Big Four yard. They would be recovered in the next day or two. Of course, the main lines to the south would be cleared shortly, at which point the onslaught would begin again. But Loomis would be prepared this time.

In fact, Harker felt that he himself had managed the situation extremely well. Loomis had been on the point of panic. He, Harker, had then rescued a nearly disastrous situation simply by calming Loomis and instilling in him the confidence to do the job.

The mere thought of this example of leadership filled Mr. Harker with energy sufficient to cause him to bounce up out of his chair. Looking out toward the late afternoon sun setting over Price Hill, he felt an urge to get out and look around. A light snow was falling, but it would take more than that to stop a man such as he.

Grabbing his hat and coat, he decided to walk over to the yard to cast his eyes over operations. In his mind there was already the image of a dignified man in brown hat and coat, standing alone near the throat tracks. The man so imagined had an air of authority about him. Indeed, he really looked rather like a general in civilian clothes. He was a man so elevated that he hardly had to give specific commands at all. It was enough for him to merely make known his intentions in general terms. His subordinates would then act frantically, and, if need be, desperately, to translate those intentions into actuality.

In this mood, Mr. Harker squared his shoulders, spoke to no one, and stepped out the door. He had gone no more than a few yards when a large black car pulled hurriedly in from Gest Street, passed closer to him than a fastidious sensibility would have allowed, and came to a stop slantways in such a way as to block the door of the building. It was a very poor job of parking. Who, wondered Harker, would have the effrontery to approach his center of operations in such a casual and slipshod way.

For answer, a large man in a black hat and coat emerged from the driver's seat. Harker, never having seen him before, stared fixedly. The man stared back unpleasantly. The rear door then opened to disgorge another man Harker had never seen, slightly older, but with an even more unpleasant mien. The two men together looked like part of a delegation from Al Capone. The third man came from the other side of the car, his cane tapping the ground as he moved slowly and painfully through the fading light. When his face came into view, Harker recognized him immediately.

So far as Harker knew, J. J. McIntyre had never before come as far north as Cincinnati to undertake what amounted to a surprise tour of inspection. That, in itself, was an extremely serious matter. On the other hand, he could hardly have come at a better time. Having recently been inundated by a flood of traffic, they had bravely made the best of it. Everything would very soon be in apple-pie order. Harker stepped forward with a smile on his face and his hand outstretched, ready to show Mr. McIntyre anything he might desire to see.

The older man seemed somewhat confused. He took Harker's hand only perfunctorily, and didn't introduce him to the others. On the contrary, at a nod from their chief, they moved toward the building. Harker was about to conduct Mr. McIntyre in to his office when the other stopped him and pointed with his cane in the general direction of the signal tower next to the embankment. Inexplicably, they were about to have their conference out of doors in the snow flurries.

After a few halting steps, Mr. McIntyre stopped and spoke.

"You're through."

He then pointed with his cane to the younger of the two men he had brought with him.

"He's your replacement. You'll have various retirement benefits. Get in touch with the accounting office for the details."

Harker found himself unable to say anything at all. The other continued,

"You've let things get hopelessly snarled here. Shipments have disappeared all over the place. One of them held up completion of a destroyer at the Bath Iron Works in Maine. Another's brought an assembly line producing torpedo bombers to a halt. It can't be tolerated. I've sent messages and had no satisfaction at all."

Harker managed to reply,

"I had no idea those messages were from you personally, sir."

"It doesn't matter who they were from! If your man Loomis can't find those shipments pretty damn fast, he'll be gone too."

Seemingly having spent himself, Mr. McIntyre turned and started back for the car. Harker found himself reduced virtually to pleading as he spoke to the older man's unresponsive back. He pointed out that he had always been successful in sales. He said,

"Perhaps I could go back to sales. Even if it meant a considerable demotion, ..."

The other spoke over his shoulder in a much gentler tone.

"We've no need for that now. We have more business than we can handle. Perhaps after the war. You might as well clear out and let the others get on with the job."

The other two men started up the steps to the building while Harker proceeded in the opposite direction. He had gone no more than fifty feet when he felt slight chills moving up and down his body. It was like the first symptoms of the flu, and he wondered if he had a fever. The chills then stopped, and he felt unaccountably hot. Despite the snow drifting down around him, he opened his coat, pushed his hat back, and undid his jacket and vest. The cold air felt good on his chest, and the moisture refreshed his upturned face.

After a minute, he realized that he was staggering along like a drunk with his head thrown back, his stomach protruding, and his feet wide apart. Coming down with flu or not, such an appearance couldn't be tolerated. Straightening his posture, he was pulling his clothing together when a wave of nausea hit him, accompanied by hiccoughs. Again, he found himself weaving, his body jerking with each hiccough while he tried not to throw up.

Mr. Harker didn't consciously drop to his knees, but he nevertheless found himself on all fours, the gritty bare earth under his hands. His stomach was no longer to be denied, and he could only open his mouth, gasping occasionally and painfully as the convulsions moved upwards from his stomach. It seemed that a good part of the noisome stream of liquid came out through his nose, and even his eyes.

When he finally regained control, there was a dreadful stench and a disgusting sensation in his mouth and nose. His hat had fallen forward into the mess on the ground, or perhaps it had fallen first and then received the vomit.

In repulsion, Mr. Harker crawled away to the left a little, and happened to catch a glimpse of the building he had just left. Only a short distance away, faces could be seen at each lighted window, looking out at him. Ironically, he recalled his own vision of himself earlier as the general in charge. It seemed a long time ago.

In order to get the taste out of his mouth, Mr. Harker tried to scoop up some snow with his fingers. There wasn't enough, and he ended with a mouthful of dirt and cinders. Spitting it out, he tried to rise, but the nausea hit him again. There wasn't much left in his stomach. Harker found himself retching only a thin trickle of liquid which ran down his chin. As the dry heaves continued, he became vaguely aware of someone at his elbow.

It turned out to be Jenny, the younger secretary, who was squatting beside him solicitously. She had come out without her coat and hat, and was asking if she could help. He choked out that he thought he had flu. Indeed, his whole body was shivering uncontrollably, and he realized that he couldn't possibly drive. Jenny said she would get someone to drive him home, and started to run to the building. Just then, Clarice, the other secretary, came out. After a quick consultation, Clarice went back into the building while Jenny, looking cold, returned to him.

"We'll have one of the freight agents drive you home, Mr. Harker. It'll only be a minute."

In the event, it was much more than a minute. Harker, moving into a sitting position, pulled his coat as tightly as possible around him while Jenny helped support his back. When Clarice finally returned, it was with bad news.

"I'm terribly sorry, Mr. Harker. None of them can take you now, and Jenny and I don't know how to drive. Let's get you back in, and we'll call a taxi."

As impossible as it seemed to drive, it was more impossible to go back into the building. Harker, helped up by both women, headed for his car. They both objected, but accompanied him, one on each arm, for the whole distance. In truth, he felt better as he walked, and even managed a little joke as to the comparative loyalty of secretaries and freight agents. Clarice looked back over her shoulder and spoke bitterly,

"I hope some of them find out what it's like to be down one of these days."

Mr. Harker drove the secretaries back to the building. Then, instead of turning right for his home in Price Hill, he headed for the nearby downtown business district. Parking on Third Street, he walked quickly to the Sinton Hotel without any of the unsteadiness that he had felt earlier. Proceeding to the men's room, he got cleaned up and gave his hat to the attendant for cleaning. Jenny had wiped it dry with her handkerchief, but it was still spotted.

Harker then got a supply of dimes and went to the telephones. The first call was to his wife, telling her that he had a business meeting, and that he'd be late. He then began calling a series of businessmen, none of them connected with railways, telling them that he was looking for a position as sales manager. He had begun with the idea of not going home until he had something definite. However, while all the men he called took him seriously, and some showed definite interest, none were prepared to make an appointment on the spot.

That was, of course, only reasonable, and Harker resigned himself to having to give his wife bad news without any definite good news to leaven it. It wasn't that she would react badly. On the contrary, she would be most sympathetic and supportive. But, still, he lingered by the row of telephones, trying to think of someone else to call.

Happening to see the morning's newspaper on the counter, folded backwards to an inside page, Harker saw a name that he knew, that of Klaus Seydlitz. Mr. Seydlitz and his wife were putting on a concert at Music Hall to benefit a fund in honor of his late cousin, killed at Pearl Harbor.

Harker knew Seydlitz as the owner of the Bellwether Railway, and, although they had never met personally, they had conducted negotiations on the telephone which were both pleasant and successful. It sounded as if Seydlitz might now be in need of a fund-raiser for his memorial fund.

Paul Harker had always been very quick to pick up things in the voices of others, and he did so now. Seydlitz, despite his calm studied courtesy, was at least as desperate as Harker himself. The latter couldn't imagine why. Seydlitz was a very rich man. It was known that his fortune was conservatively invested. He couldn't possibly be facing ruin. But Harker was sure of his intuitions. He therefore made sure that his own voice didn't have the tone of the beggar. Seydlitz said that he did, indeed, need professional management of the fund, and he suggested dinner at the Sinton that very evening in order to discuss matters.

Mr. Seydlitz, bigger and even more German than Harker had expected, smiled pleasantly and described the fund. He and his wife originally intended to run it themselves, but they both had other pressing concerns and it was getting too much for them. It was agreed that Harker could handle it easily, and terms were casually agreed on.

Harker was, of course, pleased. But there was still that tone in Seydlitz' voice. The fund was, to him, a small thing. He was happy to have the problem solved, but it was a small problem.

They next talked, inevitably of railways. Harker, somewhat uncharacteristically for him, told Seydltz of his problems at the Southern, concluding,

"I still don't think it was my fault, but I was held responsible."

Seydlitz responded with surprising warmth,

"Of course it wasn't your fault. I've been telling them that would happen for years."

Seydlitz then explained his plan for the use of both the C, L, and N and the Bellwether Railway. His conception was, Harker thought, quite brilliant. But he had gotten nowhere with it. Not a single railroad had agreed to send empties south over the C, L, and N. The only business the transfer yard at Bellwether had had was that which Harker himself had given it. Seydlitz was quite grateful for that. But, as soon as the Southern got its line repaired, even that would cease.

Harker saw immediately why Seydlitz had failed. He was no kind of salesman. No matter how good his ideas, he'd never convince anyone of them. It wasn't that he couldn't express himself clearly and persuasively. It was simply that he wasn't pushy enough. Harker replied,

"If the lines had been using your system, I'd still be at the Southern. We could easily have handled the loaded cars if we hadn't had the empties on our hands."

"No one in your position could have prevented the stoppage which occurred, or the much more serious crisis which is coming. It almost happened in the last war right here in Cincinnati, but no one seems to remember."

"I can sell your plan to the railways. I already know some of the right men, and they won't know a minute's peace until they've heard me out. They'll all be in trouble by now, and they won't be able to resist the solution."

"Why have they resisted it so hard up to now?"

"They're lazy. They won't change their operating procedures one iota if they can help it. What's needed is someone who knows how to make them feel that they'll be held responsible if they don't change and things do go badly. They must be made to realize that, if there's a mess, their superiors will find out that they refused the one chance to avoid it."

Before dinner was over, Mr. Harker was no longer manager of the Erich Stuhlenkamp Fund. He had instead been hired by the Cincinnati, Lebanon, and Northern Railway at his former salary. He was to set out the next morning for New York.

Bill Todd -- Klaus: A Railway Novel
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