Len Walker, written by Ferg Devins

After Har­ry Casey retired as Sta­tion Agent at Souris, Ed Stop­pell was suc­cess­ful appli­cant for the Agen­t’s posi­tion. And after Ed retired along came Len Walker.

Ed Stop­pell was a lot like Har­ry Casey, but Len Walk­er was a dif­fer­ent sort. I don’t think he ever worked an agency where he had staff work­ing under him. In Souris sta­tion, we had two Oper­a­tors (teleg­ra­phers), a Freight Clerk and an Assis­tant Agent, who came under the Agen­t’s jurisdiction.

Len changed duties around when he came here. He gave the Oper­a­tors the job of look­ing after the tick­et sales, on top of their reg­u­lar duties. That meant besides sell­ing tick­ets, the Oper­a­tor had to bal­ance the tick­et cash draw­er at 17:00 O’Clock when the main office closed down. (There were no cash tills ‘way back then) You real­ize then that Len was unpop­u­lar with the Operators.

Of course, when the Oper­a­tor was busy, Len would get off his butt and attend the tick­et wick­et. Some­times the cash would­n’t balance.

Usu­al­ly there was more mon­ey in the draw­er than what the counter book showed, which meant prob­a­bly a tick­et was sold and who­ev­er sold it neglect­ed to mark the amount of sale down on the counter book. Then, that meant you had to go through all the indi­vid­ual tick­et sales that day and check off the ones that were marked down on the counter book. The tick­ets that were sold and did­n’t show up on the counter book were tracked down to who­ev­er made that sale and did­n’t mark it in the book. Yep, you guessed it. The cul­prit was usu­al­ly Lennie. And of course the Oper­a­tor delight­ed in point­ing this out to Mr. Walk­er. Len’s favourite remark was “Oh, I was just putting an effi­cien­cy test on you”.….. BIG DEAL.!!

Back in the old days, when we had pas­sen­ger trains, each pas­sen­ger train car­ried a Gov­ern­ment Mail Car. Trav­el­ling in these mail cars were mail clerks. At each sta­tion was a Mail box, where you could deposit a let­ter and the clerks would retrieve the mail from these box­es and sort the mail enroute.

One day a lady phoned our office. Len answered the phone. The lady inquired, “If I caught the train out of Souris to Regi­na today, how long would it take me to get to Nipaw­in, Sask?” Len explained it would take him awhile to get all the infor­ma­tion and could he call her back. She said “OK” and gave him her phone num­ber. So Len got out the train sched­ules and fig­ured out the times she would leave Souris, arrive Regi­na, leave Regi­na, arrive Lani­gan, leave Lani­gan, arrive at She­ho, and then anoth­er cou­ple of con­nec­tions up into North­ern Saskatchewan. It would take her at least three days, maybe longer if train con­nec­tions weren’t made enroute. So to save time, Len also fig­ured out the tick­et prices and made up a big long tick­et, with coupons for each seg­ment of her trip. Final­ly after a cou­ple of hours of intense work, Len phoned the prospec­tive cus­tomer up and gave her all the infor­ma­tion she need­ed and told her that he had also writ­ten up a tick­et for her, and would she mind com­ing down ahead of the train’s arrival time so he could go over every­thing with her.To which she replied, “Oh, no, Mr. Walk­er I am just mail­ing a let­ter, and won­dered how long it would take to get to Nipawin”.

The Oper­a­tor, Freight Clerk and Assis­tant Agent did­n’t dare laugh out loud, but they had con­tent­ed smirks on their faces. Laughter