All the Livelong Day

I been workin' on the railroadWhen the funding for her teacher aid job ended, Becky moved to the upstairs rooms of a house Vickie had just bought in Middletown. Becky went to work for the C&O railroad in Brunswick, as a welder. I watched her leave for work one cold morning, decked out in longjohns, insulated coveralls, a hardhat, welder's gloves, safety glasses, a lunch box, and a big thermos of coffee.

In the photo at right, the fellow on the left is Becky's then-future father-in-law. That might be Becky herself on the right, but it's hard to tell; in her work clothes, she looked like all the other guys working on the railroad all the live-long day.

House in Braddock HeightsIn addition to her future father-in-law, Becky met her future husband, Bob, at the Brunswick yard. They set up housekeeping in an apartment on the first floor of a big old house in Braddock Heights.

Like all Becky's apartments, this one was light and airy. It had an expansive down-slope view toward Frederick out the rear windows. It was pleasant living except for occasional banging and yelling by the tumultuous couple upstairs.


Becky and Bob were married a few months later on a hot day in Middletown, Maryland, two tall people, pleased with each other, earning good money on the railroad, and optimistic about the future. A few more months later, Becky and Bob moved into larger quarters in Frederick, taking along a couple of cats and a baby in the oven. They lived for several years there on Church Street, in the ground-floor apartment of another divided-up big house.

By 1981, Jessie had been born. The economy tanked and the railroad laid off everybody except the most senior workers in the yard. The economy recovered and the railroad hired everybody back. Bob went in and out of rehab for difficulties with alcohol and Viet Nam. The economy tanked anew and the railroad laid everybody off.