Saturday, February 26, 2011


From my friend Patty Burch:

As a young person, for six years, I worked for the railroad and I was a member of the Railway And Steamship Clerks Union. My boss was the Terminal Superintendant in Indianapolis. The head Trainmen Union guy, Ron, was known as a real hard rock. I had heard about his toughness when I first went to work there. Finally, after a few weeks, I met him. He was about six feet five and 250 pounds--a real bulldog of a man. He walked in my office and gave me the eagle eye. He introduced himself. I asked him if he had a daughter named Ronidean. He looked at me suspiciously and said “Yes”. I said, “Oh, I worked with her at Vonnegut Hardware, and I just loved her”. Everything in the world changed at that moment. I could tell he loved his daughter (who was built exactly like him). He was my "friend" from that day forward. Because of that friendliness, he seemed to change in his roughness around all of us in the office. ["Ronidean": he named her after himself; his middle name was Dean!]

As part of my job, I had to take the minutes of every meeting of investigations: i.e.: train wrecks, Rule G (drinking), sexual situations (e.g.: a crossing guard propositioned two black girls and said he would pay them 50 cents each for oral sex. They did it, but he never paid them).

The investigations were held downtown in Indianapolis. I would walk into the room with my boss, and there, at a huge table, would sit a table full of Union representatives – local, state, etc., along with Ron. All of the biggies showed up for these meetings. I was only 21, but somehow they didn’t intimidate me. [Sue says it's the arrogance of youth.]

They did not allow tape recorders in there because, I believe, they were hoping I would make a mistake in taking the minutes but I didn’t. It was an exciting time at every investigation, and I admired the way the Union fought for their people. I will probably always support the unions.