Monday, December 15, 2014
The Great War: Vol, Chapter 5-1
Berlin. July 25th, 1914 The Cycleworks, like many more desirable employers, had a shorter work day on Saturdays, reducing the usual eleven hours to only eight. This had allowed Paul and Berta’s weekend excursion to catch the 6:10 local. The third class carriages were packed, forcing the group to disperse and find seats in ones and twos. Walter was squeezed onto one of the wooden benches next to two farm wives returning from a day of marketing. They eyed him suspiciously as he sat down next to them and settled his knapsack between his feet. When he showed no immediate signs of trying to snatch their purses, however, they returned to discussing the prices for eggs, poultry and feed, and exchanging anecdotes about the regular sellers and buyers at the market.
After a long wail from the train’s whistle, it began to chuff up to speed. Buildings slid by outside the windows. There were two more stations before the local cleared the city, and then stops slowed to every fifteen or twenty minutes. With each stop the benches thinned out. Trees and fields and steep-roofed farmhouses slid by outside with a speed that was fascinating to watch. With stops every block or two, the streetcars never much exceeded a running pace, but with four or more miles between stops Walter guessed that the local at times neared twenty miles an hour. He wished he could get forward into the engine and see the crew at work, managing machinery so much more powerful than anything he touched in the factory. The engine powering the locomotive was doubtless larger than the one which powered all the drive belts in the factory, and the power was all poured into moving the big steel wheels.
The shadows were lengthening when they pulled into yet another rural station, and Berta stood up and led the way out of the railroad carriage. The eleven of them, seven men and four women, assembled on the covered platform with their packs on their backs.