The Most Dangerous Job Isn’t Writing


“Running across freight car roofs to engage the brakes on each car as quickly as possible was a hazardous affair. In winter the planks atop the freight cars would be slippery with ice and snow. Furthermore, tracks were not always aligned horizontally resulting a rolling motion as the cars passed over uneven areas of track. At a height of 12 or 14 feet above the track grade, the rolling was much magnified and posed a grave danger to the unlucky brakeman riding atop the freight car. In the worst case, the brakeman would be thrown to his death underneath the wheels of the train.”

AND THIS WAS ONLY THE HALF OF IT. Read all about this dangerous work at:

What about you? Have you ever had a job that was hazardous to your health? Or is writing killing you?

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Elephant says:

    This is a bad job! I have had boring jobs, but I have never had a dangerous one. I helped my friend with a paper route and she drove into another car (my job was to toss the papers) that hurt, but it wasn’t exactly the same as falling off an icy moving train!

    I have a question about the authenticity of a letter written during the civil war. I know you do a great deal of research and know all about that era. Perhaps you have a suggestion? a website about letters (there are so many floating around I figure half of them at least must be fake!)?



    1. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at Civil War period letters . . . I did see a lot of military correspondence and the main thing I remember is the style of handwriting. I have a friend who showed me exactly how to write the way they did back then and that’s how I wrote the original manuscript for The House on Tenafly Road (that’s when it was titled The Wilderness–blah). Another thing I noticed about the letters was that they never ended them saying Love or Love always or anything like that. It was always more formal. But, I’ll keep my eye out for other telltale signs of fakeness. Do you own a CW letter? My friend said they used blue/black ink–not blue or black but I don’t know if that’s true–he is a very very serious reenactor/historian.

      The only dangerous job I ever had was working with Belgian work horses and it was only dangerous because I had no idea what I was doing 🙂


      1. Elephant says:

        I too had a few jobs that were dangerous only because I was a know-nothing! But these are long and boring tales!

        Thanks for the tips on the civil war letters. I have only copies of the letters. Other people are excited about the letters, but my first reaction was “these are fake!” The spelling errors are just too cute and consistently silly (I am one of the world’s best bad spellers, but I don’t constantly use the wrong spelling of a word with more than one spelling (e.g. meat and meet, hear and here – wouldn’t you use meet instead of meat, or here instead of hear if you were careless?). Oh well.



      2. I agree with you. Cute always seems fake. When reading old letters (trying to remember) some seemed really modern–those may have been more of the educated class. Soldiers letters had misspellings but I think in general it was more phonetic type spelling. Now you’ve got me curious. I’ll have to rummage through some of my stuff 🙂


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