It was a dark and stormy night…oh, wait, no, it was a gray and foggy morning when I took this picture at Ottaquechee Farm in Vermont. Our youngest granddaughter was given the chore of ringing the dinner bell to let everyone know when we were ready to eat meals. And ring it she did! And yelled at the top of her little lungs: “It’s time to eat!” And if people didn’t show up fast enough, she’d ring it again and let go with another yell.
It reminded me of dinner time on the farm when I was a very young kid and my mom would come to the front steps of the farmhouse and yell, “Supper time!” (They call it “supper”, not “dinner” in Iowa.) Good memories…and I delighted in the joy my granddaughter took in doing her “chores”! She made her Pop-Pop smile!
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1947, two rush-hour commuter trains collided in South Croydon, England, killing 32 people. Heavy fog and a mistake by a signalman caused the deadly crash.
The fog was even thicker than usual on the morning of October 24 outside London. The train from Tattenham Corner to London Bridge was full, carrying passengers taking their daily trip to work. The train from Haywards Heath into London was also full and the two trains were sharing the same track at certain points in the journey.
In 1947, keeping trains from colliding with each other was the job of signalmen using semaphone signals. A more effective colored-light system was not used in London until shortly after this incident. On this day, the Haywards Heath train stopped at the South Croydon station and was held up there for five minutes. Although the signal system indicated to the signalman on duty that the Tattenham Corner train should stop, the signalman forgot about the Haywards train and the heavy fog obscured his vision of the South Croydon station. Thinking it was safe to proceed, he overrode the system—contrary to procedure—and gave the Tattenham train the all-clear signal.
The Tattenham train came through the South Croydon station at 40 miles per hour, slamming right into the back of the Haywards Heath train. The powerful collision did serious damage to both trains, especially the Tattenham train, the first car of which was crushed. In addition to the 32 people who lost their lives, another 183 were seriously injured and required hospitalization.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: at the end of the 17th century, Peter the Great instituted a tax on facial hair in an attempt to modernize Russian society. Anyone with facial hair was required to carry a copper or bronze token to prove that they had paid the tax.