Whitesburg KY

Policing during the 1946 railroad strike in St. Louis

Near the end of March 1946, Scott Field, Belleville, Ill., was called on to protect the refrigerator cars at the train station in St. Louis during a railroad strike. We were told the cars were full of food.

The 25 members of my radio operators class would be with the cars the first night.

All my classmates were young, in our first week of school. We were just learning each other’s names. I was the only one from my basic training flight.

We took a bus to the railroad yard in St. Louis where we would be walking around the cars during the night. I knew a little about strikes, growing up near the coal mines in Jenkins. Some could be deadly.

One military policeman was in charge of us. He was very nervous and made us nervous also. And, like the rest of us, he had not been in the military long.

It was very cold. We scrounged up some wood and built fires in about five locations around the cars. We had nothing to eat or drink. The night passed so slow.

The next morning, another bus from Scott Field arrived with more men to take over for us. We got on the warm bus to take us back to our base. The driver parked in front of our large mess hall, and we all made a run for the chow line. We ate like we were starved.

The strike was called off in a couple of days.

(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)

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