Crowdsource Fact Checking

Presentation at Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club

Did you know that beer can pop-top openers weren’t invented until the 1960s? I didn’t nor did my copy editor whose otherwise excellent review of my manuscript was greatly appreciated. But, leave it to a polite and kindly soul to discreetly bring the church-key verse pop-top reference in a Rails of War vignette to my attention after my presentation at the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club. He was right, and a church-key around the neck applied to a can of beer would have made a much more colorful depiction of World War II GI behavior than simply popping a pop-top. Live and learn.

I had two author presentations in August, one at the Rockland Library and one at the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club, both in Maine. Both events were well attended, and that’s good because I love to meet people. Everyone has a story, and I love to hear them. What’s amazing to me is the familial proximity people have to railroading.

I know my audience is a non-representative sample of the general public but a good many attendees have someone–a father, a brother, a grandfather–who were railroaders. In 1947 there were 1.5 million railroaders in America, and by 2014 there were 235,000. Also, a single railroader in 1947 earned $5,700 for their employer, and a 2014 railroader brought in $330,000. Total industry revenue for 1947 reached $8.7 billion and $77.7 billion in 2014. The bottom line is that today’s railroaders are as scarce as hens’ teeth in our population of 320 million. But, they show up at Rails of War presentations, and I greatly appreciate meeting them.

So, here’s to crowdsource corrections, railroaders, and the connections that bring us all together.


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