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Story Time: Crossing arms

Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2022 at 12:58 pm

By Lorry Myers

I watched the railroad crossing arms come down in front of me. I just sat there and waited; waited for trains to switch tracks or to switch engines or even switch engineers. I grew up in this two-line railroad town and learned to ignore the sound of the trains and the constant red signal lights.

Then, I fell in love with a railroader.

My husband was a track inspector whose territory ran from St. Charles to Moberly and Centralia to Columbia. Randy, unfortunately, was one of the first people called to the scene for crossing collisions between a train and a car.

It took my husband awhile to get over those kinds of calls.

As a result, Randy preached the gospel of railroad safety to his family.

“A train always wins.”

“Stop before you cross.”

“Never, ever drive around a railroad crossing arm.”


So, here I was, stopped at the railroad crossing; the lights were flashing, the crossing arms were down but there was no train in site. Between the rail lines, standing next to the signal box, was a man who was watching me while I was watching him.

Suddenly, he motioned me to cross the tracks.


I pretended I didn’t see him but again, he motioned for me to disregard the flashing lights and go around the crossing arms.

That wasn’t going to happen.

My husband pounded in my head to never, ever go around a crossing arm and I wasn’t about to start now. Still, the motioning for me to go around continued, even more emphatically than before.

I wasn’t falling for it.

Finally, the worker yelled for me to “come around”. The guard arms were being repaired and there were no trains coming.

Nope, not doing it.

For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard