According to the Sept. 9, 1930 Pittsburg Headlight, the Kansas City Southern Shops were to be completely shut down on Sept. 10 so that all employees (excepting those required for essential duties) could attend the funeral of M.H. Hall, age 46, Superintendent of Machinery.
Hall was killed three days previous while working a derailment of the Flying Crow passenger train 70 miles north of Pittsburg in Merwin, Missouri. A workman, Albert Phillips, later died in a Kansas City hospital of injuries suffered when a crane fell on him and Hall.
As Superintendent of Machinery, Millard Hall was in charge of the construction and repair of all railroad rolling stock, not only out of Pittsburg (where the shops and yards covered some three hundred acres), but also all shops and roundhouses over the KCS system.
Granddaughter, Sandra Grier, who loaned me the newspaper, told me he traveled from Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico in his own private rail car, which would, these days, be akin to having his own private jet.
Hall was survived by his wife, Mayme, one married daughter, Irene Hall Barnes, and 13-year-old Estelle of the home.
Sandra also loaned me her Aunt Estelle’s “Forever and Ever Memory Book,” a scrapbook begun when she was eleven and a student at Lakeside Elementary and Jr. High.
The scrapbook is a gem; a magnificent time capsule of the 1930s replete with photos, cards, party invitations, admit slips, school play programs, newspaper clippings, buttons, pieces of cloth, Christmas lists, chums, classmates and inscriptions by teachers and friends.
As she lived on West Washington across from Lakeside Park, there’s several pictures taken there, one of which called the park “The Old Hangout.” Indeed, back in the day it was the place to be, with plenty of fishing, play and picnic areas, a boat dock and canoe rentals. And, in an old postcard I dug up online, what appears to be some kind of zip line crossing from one side to the other.
Some of her chums got junior high philosophical in their scrapbook inscriptions: “I wish you a mathematics life – joys added, sorrows subtracted.” – Jack Knott. Others whimsical: “I love you little, I love you big. My love for you would choke a pig.” – Mary Porter. Others were heartfelt, as in: “Flowers may wither, Trees may die, Friends may forget you, But never will I.” - Mary Elizabeth Wilson
Getting back to the newspaper, one of the first things I noticed about the old Headlight was its dimensions - 23” X 17”. The current Morning Sun is 23” X 12”. Also, it was printed in a much smaller font. I counted 27 news items on the front page as compared with 7 on today’s Morning Sun.
The Headlight reported that Hall’s body was returned to Pittsburg by ambulance but Sandra told me that was incorrect; that it was actually sent home on the Flying Crow, the passenger train that ran between Kansas City and Port Arthur, Texas.
The mention of the Flying Crow brought back a rush of boy joy; of stutter stepping up the aisle to the rock-a-bye of a massive KCS passenger car fifteen feet above the ground with my Dad, the engineer, on the front end, tromboning two longs, a short, and a long song on the horn as we approached each crossing, followed by the heart flutter of flashing lights and sounding bells as we passed through.
Sandra said the reason for the transport change from ambulance to train was that the men — the workers on Hall’s crew — wouldn’t allow him to be taken by the ambulance.
Professing that he was one of theirs — and the only proper way to transport a railroad man was by rail — they made arrangements to send him home on the Flying Crow.
Because of the number of people expected to attend, Hall’s funeral was held in The Mirza Shrine Mosque, which was, indeed, filled to overflowing. Pittsburg offices and shops were closed to allow mourners to pay their respects. Attendees from all the way up and down the KCS line arrived by train.
Estelle’s memory book has several heartbreaking newspaper clippings about the accident and funeral, as well as a long memorial published in the Kansas City Southern company magazine.
The complexities of grief she experienced in losing her railroader “Daddy” — as she referred to him in her scrapbook — can be seen in the poignant message suggested by the last memento glued to the inside of the book’s back cover; a period postcard of a Kansas City Southern passenger train “crossing over” a viaduct.
Which passenger train? The Flying Crow.