John “Tanky” Bell, Jr.,
Anecdote by Tom Collins
Bell was a friend of the family, and I got my "first" cab ride with
him in a C-Liner, going from Speonk to Montauk. Sorry, no pictures ever taken! I
remember he had a fireman, and we had a meet at Westhampton, and the crew on the
train in the clear passed us some bunches of grapes.
Tanky lived actually in Springs, north of
I don't know when they changed work rules, but at the time the crew worked 10 days on, and 5 days off. I had it marked on the calendar when he was working. I would go out to the tracks every night on the Eastbound, and give him a "High Ball", when he came around the curve at PT.
I used a lantern he had given me. If school was not in session, I would usually meet him on the Westbound trip as he went by Eastport. All my friends thought I was crazy!!!! Rain or shine, I met him every night he worked.
After he retired, and his wife passed away, he moved into a senior housing complex in
At his funeral, the train stopping at
I tried to get a reprint from Newsday on the article about him, but was unsuccessful. I also can't remember the name of his fireman on my cab ride, but he went on to become an engineer.