Skip to main content

Saga of The Lonely Cow Catcher

I was born in the south. I live in the south and will die in the south. This is only a small part of the memories I share.


I Want Desperately to Tell You

this story. Relax. This is not something from Stephen King, but something that I have had stuck in the back of my mind over the years, and I think I shall reveal the subject of my mental burden right now. If any of you have ever experienced a mental burden or any burden, then you can relate.

Before we begin, just let me ask if any of you have ever been near or have ridden a locomotive passenger train? Or just sit in awe as a majestic locomotive freight train blew by you sending chills up and down your spine? If you haven’t, then the only link you will have is by watching those vintage black and white TV shows and films. “It’s a Wonderful Life,” has a scene with a passenger train pulling into the station where “George Bailey,” (Jimmy Stewart) is there to welcome his little brother, “Harry.” Just watch the film and pay close attention to the front of the train.

In a few moments, I will head to the real center of this piece. And I should do it now, but I want clear understanding from you and for the cow catcher. Don’t ask, just read. Thanks.

Now Let’s Talk About The Inventor

of the cow catcher? To be blunt with you, in 1830, a Charles Babbage was a passenger on the first run of the Manchester and Liverpool rail line—thus prompting him to research and invent the cow catcher. There was more about Babbage. Besides being a mathematician, he was a super-intelligent man who loved to tinker with numbers. He would have made a good computer guru in my opinion.

Now that we have the cow catcher’s name, Babbage, for being the “local boy makes good,” type of story and seeing his invention be manufactured and sold to lots of railroad companies those of the freight-shipping or passenger travel on a grand scale, it is no wonder that Babbage and his life was enhanced for making the railroads free of all of the stray cows that many would start walking down the tracks, but then they, for some reason, thought it prudent to stand on the railroads and never move.

A sad note here. Prior to the cow catcher, there were hundreds of innocent cows that lost their lives simply because the oncoming trains’ only way to signal the poor bovines that danger was rolling, but their steam whistle. And just went over the cows’ heads as if a flock of back birds went on the wing.

I too know that even in the early days of our nation, there was a need for cows. They provided beef and milk to help people grow strong and straight. We might call these bovines, “cows of special station,” simply for being alive. No. I am not going to talk about the slaughtering house because that only irks me.


Now Comes The Sad Thoughts And

moments found within the following thoughts concerning (why) the cow catcher, any cow catcher, is always lonely. These views might shock you.

  • Why should a cow catcher be lonely when it at the first of the freight or passenger train? Simple. With the cow catcher, it can only look forward, but if it were to glance back at the locomotive, with the speed the engine goes, there would be deadly-pile-up and no one wants that.
  • I know of no couples who were (and are) deeply in love who would let the guy take his girlfriend’s picture while she is perched on the cow catcher. It looks way too unladylike and suggestive. And when the cow catcher was first introduced, the morality was so high that if a situation (like this) were to happen, the couple in love just might spend a day or two in the county jail.
  • As years went by, we Americans enjoyed sporting events such as the drag races where (a) talented Don Garlits made a name for himself, but to make a point, there have never been any Cow Catcher Races and who would buy a ticket for $45.00?
  • As a rule, cow catchers nave never had a secret place named CCA (Cow Catchers Anonymous) to talk-out any problems they might have encountered on their recent trips to one town to the other. By the same token if a cow catcher “goes off the train” and begins to lay-off from work, the cow catcher is taken off the train and is never to seen again. Now this is dangerous.
  • A war film should be made about cow catchers. George Clooney and Ben Affleck could star and co-star in it and the plot could be about a young cow catcher who is an orphan and forced to head to war. Then Clooney and Alleck, two stern Army officers, come to its aid and with the right amount of training, the young cow catcher grows into a productive member of the Army with its film entitled, “Sgt. Cow Catcher,” and it is almost like “Sgt. York,” but with a cow catcher.
  • No one has ever bought a cow catcher from any pet store to take it home and make it a good pet for a little boy. Ahhh, just a kid and his cow catcher. What an introduction. I would buy a copy of the book.
  • Now to let you fully-understand why a cow catcher is the loneliest member of any train. Take the caboose, the red box car at the end of the train. The brakeman usually rides there and he would step out when the train would stop and signal the engineer with his lantern. Now look at this: a caboose has every boxcar in its line of vision so it never gets lonely.

Now I’m sad.

May 19, 2020_____________________________________________


© 2020 Kenneth Avery

Related Articles