Signalman Jack: The Baboon Who Worked for the Railroad—and Never Made a Mistake

If I were reading the header and didn’t know me I’d definitely think I’d lost it BIG time.  I didn’t believe it either till I saw the pic. And you know what they say ……. a picture is worth a thousand words. The article below. which I have hijacked 100%, was written by Lucas Reilly and appeared on a site named, “Mentalfloss.com” (Click on photo to enlarge.)

James Edward Wadw and Jack

James Edward Wide and Jack

One day in the 1880s, a peg-legged railway signalman named James Edwin Wide was visiting a buzzing South African market when he witnessed something surreal: A chacma baboon driving an oxcart. Impressed by the primate’s skills, Wide bought him, named him Jack, and made him his pet and personal assistant.

Wide needed the help. Years earlier, he had lost both his legs in a work accident, which made his half-mile commute to the train station extremely difficult for him. So the first thing he trained the primate to do was push him to and from work in a small trolley. Soon, Jack was also helping with household chores, sweeping floors and taking out the trash.

But the signal box is where Jack truly shined. As trains approached the rail switches at the Uitenhage train station, they’d toot their whistle a specific number of times to alert the signalman which tracks to change. By watching his owner, Jack picked up the pattern and started tugging on the levers himself.”

Soon, Wide was able to kick back and relax as his furry helper did all of the work switching the rails. According to The Railway Signal, Wide “trained the baboon to such perfection that he was able to sit in his cabin stuffing birds, etc., while the animal, which was chained up outside, pulled all the levers and points.”

As the story goes, one day a posh train passenger staring out the window saw that a baboon, and not a human, was manning the gears and complained to railway authorities. Rather than fire Wide, the railway managers decided to resolve the complaint by testing the baboon’s abilities. They came away astounded.

“Jack knows the signal whistle as well as I do, also every one of the levers,” wrote railway superintendent George B. Howe, who visited the baboon sometime around 1890. “It was very touching to see his fondness for his master. As I drew near they were both sitting on the trolley. The baboon’s arms round his master’s neck, the other stroking Wide’s face.”

Jack was reportedly given an official employment number, and was paid 20 cents a day and half a bottle of beer weekly. Jack passed away in 1890, after developing tuberculosis. He worked the rails for nine years without ever making a mistake—evidence that perfectionism may be more than just a human condition.”

Many thanks to daughter Annalise for pointing this one out to me.

Very modern form of Hurdy Gurdy Machine -Wintergatan – Marble Machine (music instrument using 2000 marbles)

The president of our club, The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society, is Chuck Whitlock.

Dear Mr. President,

Can the club please get one of the doo-dahs in the vid below:

We could bring it out on hols and play it for visitors!!!!! I’d be happy to turn the crank.

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Thanks to club member Deb Smith for the heads up on this vid.

 

 

New Official Garb for the Club

I am going to propose at the next club meeting that these trousers and the Croatian soccer team jersey be the new official garb for the club. Members can have their name on the back of their jersey and can choose the number they want. Good idea what?

Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society official trews

Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society official trews

If a member wants shorts he can cut their trews off the length that suits their legs.

Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society official team jersey

Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society official team jersey

The jerseys will be available in 1/2x through xxxxxxxxL.

Pretty spiffy I reckon.

Retribution …….

Wife Sarah and I had some of club member Frank Davis eggs for supper (scrambled with smoked salmon – absolutely delish). My car was bombed today by one of the local flying scavengers. The two put together made me think that I should put this poster on the blog:

Retribution posster

Retribution posster

2017 Solar Eclipse

The recent solar eclipse was a total bust here in foggy Fort Bragg in Northern California. Exciting as it was it was not exciting enough for me to traipse 300 miles to Oregon to see it. So, I have been paging through my favorite sites looking for pics of the eclipse. There are lots but these three particularly turned me on.

Far away

Far away

Closer

Closer – look at the flares

Bingo - what a shot!!!!

Bingo – what a shot!!!!

Mesmerizing. Breathtaking what?