The Boy “Engineer” – Oberlin, PA (1917)

It seems that boys in every generation are attracted to occupations involving fast, powerful, or dangerous, equipment.

I don’t think that this postcard was exchanged between boys, but the humorous drawing recalls the excitement and fascination that boys felt toward railroads in the early 20th century.

Mr. John Bittinger was in Oberlin, an unincorporated community of Dauphin County in central Pennsylvania.,_Pennsylvania

John may have been working in a cigar factory.

In October of 1917, John received a postcard from his friend, William Bausman.

Mr. Bausman worked at the Johnstown Cigar Company in Johnstown, PA.

Johnstown, in a narrow valley of the Appalachian ranges east of Pittsburgh, was the site of a catastrophic flood in 1889.,_Pennsylvania

On the face of the postcard, a barefoot boy stands in a rural landscape; a pink pig accompanies him.

The boy is sporting a straw hat, colorful shirt, and short pants or knickers supported by suspenders.

In the far distance, a steam engine approaches.

It may be that the boy is waiting to see the train.

A verse describes the boy’s interest:

“I wish’t I was an engineer,

I’d make the train go Zip!

And then I’d come around some day,

And take you on a trip.”

The mythical boy is given the printed name of “Jimmy” –  which the sender has carefully corrected to “Bill”.

On the reverse, Bill asks, “Are you still in the Cigar factory?”

Bill hopes that this is so.

In conclusion, John is asked to write to William who provides his address.

One hopes that the men achieved their boyhood dreams, and that they remained friends and correspondents for many years.


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