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