|The photos of the ATSF industrial area certainly brought back many wonderful memories. In 1966 I hired out as a switchman and worked that particular area whenever I could. It was Job 222, an afternoon assignment that worked the district you modeled, known as "The Patch" (I suppose because of the overall "#" shape of the tracks). We would haul a cut of cars from First Street Yard and cut them off in the street while we went light engine into the Patch.
Usually we switched Star Truck and Warehouse first and shoved our pull cars through those interesting curved brick buildings and cut them off by the building known as "the walnut house" (The Walnut Exchange) – I think there may still be some lettering or bas relief decoration to that effect. The old Nabisco building (the tall building in your photo) was known as Gold's Furniture at that time. There was another place back there we called "the burlap house." Also a poultry house.
The one that stands out in my mind was what the switch foreman called "the KARR-utt (carrot) house." It was open-sided and always cool from the evaporative cooling fans while the many Mexican women packed the carrots and waved to us. Lettered on the corrugated front (street-side) was the legend "Home of the Topless Carrot."
We generally had a 6-8 mtys out and as many to spot up. We also switched the Metropolitan Warehouse (the bigger "Old House" on the left and the "New House" or smaller concrete structure on the right.) There was a three way puzzle switch to line toward the old house, new house, or straight rail across Mateo Street (I think that was the street name).
This lead was known as "Chicken Alley" -- no chickens by the time I hired out and I recall "Stationers Corp" as the only place we spotted up. However, there was an old man who lived in Chicken Alley. He had built quite an elaborate "house" of pallets, dunnage, and whatnot. He lay outside watching us work with a book in his hand and not a care in the world!
There were several other places we sometimes had a car in or out but the ones I mentioned are what the job usually did every afternoon. We'd stash our pull cars over by that lead next to the Walnut House or, as our old foreman used to bellow with cigar in hand and Virginian accent, "HUNH!! Shove 'em up the middle an' runaround 'em!!" We would pull our cut back to First Street Yard somewhere around 5-5:30 and go to beans, often in Little Tokyo although I always preferred the Far East Cafe.
After beans (and the obligatory card game in the shanty) we hauled a cut of cars out to Hobart and brought a cut of cars back with us to be switched by another job. White King soap (officially L.A. Soap) was switched by Job 202 until it was abolished around 1967 and I think a daylight job did the switching afterward. The area around Coca-Cola was the "Canal Job" (Job 220) and had a dapper old switch foreman in starched white cap and bib overalls known as "Jocko" Beard. There was also a "Middle Patch" district by that magnificently lettered "Nate Starkman Paints and Varnishes" building, LA Times (rolls of paper) and "the furniture house." That was a night switch, Job 322. I quit ATSF in 1970 and when I came back in '79 there was only a very few places that still got cars. Barely enough work for one afternoon engine (Job 201) and it also did the ATSF Autodock and all the remaining industries between Redondo Jct. and Broadway. I left again in '86 when Amtrak took over their own crews and went to engine service in '90. Well, I've rattled on long enough. I hope some of this may be of interest to you.
|Rich Paseman remembers switching Job 222 in 1964|