Aside from locomotives, one of my favorite things to explore on railroads are the cabooses. I started last week with a view of a brakeman taking a break during his run, and continue this week with another common activity on board.
Jack Delano was very interested in the human side of railroading, and he often documents railroaders doing their jobs. And he also records images of them at rest, or in this case, the crew preparing a meal while underway on their train.
As usual, there are many small details in the scene. We’re on the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad, and it’s a cold winter’s day in January of 1943. Apparently the old caboose is pretty drafty, and the crew has attempted to seal things up a bit by tacking cardboard on the walls over the bunk, and also around the door down at the end. Beneath the table is a wooden box of fusees (labeled as fireworks), and note the Great Northern Railway calendar and the kerosene lamp on the wall. The conductor has taken steps to ease cleanup after the meal by spreading newspaper on the table . . . spills are likely common as the caboose is rocking along down the tracks.