Brownie the Boomer: The Life of Charles P. Brown, an American Railroader

Charles P. Brown, Author, H. Roger Grant, Editor Northern Illinois University Press $24 (279p) ISBN 978-0-87580-146-9
Farm work in Indiana not to his liking, 19-year-old Charlie Brown and a friend hopped a freight train for Chicago in 1898. So began Brown's career as an itinerant railroad worker, a ``boomer''--15 years as fireman, brakeman, switchman on the major rail lines of the country. After a near-fatal accident in 1913, Brown wrote this autobiography , which was published in the 1920s; Grant, editor of Railway History , here provides background and explanatory notes. Brown's unpretentious and matter-of-fact story offers a fine portrait of working conditions in the early years of the century. He lived in boardinghouses and the YMCA; he recalls events that involve runaway cars, a train robbery, drunken brawls, a collision, chance meetings with other ``boomers.'' Rail buffs and social historians will welcome this colorful bit of Americana. Photos. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 07/01/1991
Genre: Nonfiction
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