The Shit We Pulled
Part of the “Shit Starting & Shenanigans” Collection
Being a 15-year-old male in “the Region” was an exciting time for me; being a policeman’s son, sometimes made it that much better.
I was daring, reckless, maybe a bit of an idiot. Some may even say that I was a complete lunatic, but whatever it is you’re told, they’ll also tell you that they’ll never forget the shit we pulled – I made sure of that.
Jumping and Riding Trains
My two cousins (Mike & Bill) and I got this crazy idea about jumping and riding trains, we thought that it be a great way to get around – you know…free transportation! The problem with that idea was that these trains didn’t go anywhere we wanted to go, so jumping and riding them was pretty much pointless and a waste of time, but we didn’t care; we jumped and rode them anyway.
PART ONE – COUSIN MIKE
One of the first incidents that almost went horribly wrong while jumping and riding trains was with my cousin Mike. Mike and I talked and planned about jumping a train that carried brand new (tough built) cars from a nearby auto plant. We thought that we could hop a train car that carried these new cars and then take the radios out of them. I’m not sure what we planned to do with the radios once we got them…we didn’t plan that far ahead.
I mean, it’s not like we knew anyone that was in the market for stolen, factory built car radios…and besides, we never got that far anyway.
It was mid afternoon when Mike and I decided to head out towards the train depot. Neither one of us have ever taken out a car radio before so we weren’t exactly sure what tools to bring – so we brought hammers.
Not the first tool of choice for most thieves.
These weren’t your typical claw hammers either, no, these were the odd looking mechanic hammers…the hammers with the ball point at the back instead of the usual claw. Yeah, this was our tool of choice for such an operation, according to our calculations, we figured hammers would do just fine.
Oh, did I mention that this was our first time doing something like this?
…hammers are terrible tools to use when trying to steal a car radio.
James Timothy Peters
Our tool supply came from our grandfather, Grandpa Schreier (Mike’s mother and my mother were sisters and Grandpa Schreier was the father). Grandpa Schreier had an ample supply of tools. Masonry tools, carpentry tools, drafting tools, levels, ropes, chains, hooks and a single car garage filled to the rafters with wood. He had a room in the basement/workshop that was totally dedicated to doors and an old bomb cellar dedicated to ladders.
When I asked my uncle why Grandpa had all that wood in the garage, the response was “In case the house burns down he’d be able to build another one.”
The Door Room: A room that is dedicated to just doors. It is filled with interior & exterior doors; closet & bedroom doors; French doors, Colonial style doors, &c. Whatever door you may need…Grandpa Schreier just might have it.
The Ladder Room: An old bomb cellar that Grandpa Schreier built under his front porch, surrounded by brick 12″ thick (minus the entryway). It may not have been able to take a direct hit or withstand the radiation from a nuclear blast, but you sure felt like it could when you stood in it. After the bomb scare in the 1960’s, the bomb cellar eventually became the new storage place for all 30 of his extension ladders.
There was an opening in the chain-link fence of the train yard that was just big enough for us to squeeze through. We brought along a pillow case that we took from our grandmothers linen closet. We carried our hammers in them on the way to the train depot and we were going to use them to carry our car radios on the way back.
Everything was coming together.
As we crept through the hole in the fence and through the high brush and tall weeds, we moved slowly and made sure we weren’t spotted.
Now that I think about it, Mike was wearing all white. A white tank-top; white shorts & boat shoes. The perfect outfit for a stealthy operation such as this.
Luckily, a train carrying these automobiles was just on its way out of the train yard. It was going so slow you could walk next to it and still keep up. It was easy to hop on…very, VERY easy to jump and ride this train…almost too easy.
We quickly climbed on board and hid until the train made the turn at the bend in the gully. We stayed hidden and made sure that none of the “yard guys” saw us. As soon as we made that turn in the bend we went to work.
I instantly jumped up and ran next to the car that Mike was looking at.
“This is how you do it,” I said to Mike as I slammed a hammer against the car door window and smashed it.
“What are you talking about?” Mike said back. “That’s the back door.”
He was right.
“Alrighty then,” I answered back.
So, as casual as I could make it, I went over and smashed the front door window.
We looked at each other. He looked at me as if I were crazy; reached over and opened the door by the handle.
There was no need to smash the windows – the doors were unlocked.
I jumped in the car and went to town. I smashed the shit out of that dashboard with that hammer trying to get at that radio. I got it down to the metal…damn, all I needed was a Phillips screwdriver. If I had that, I would have gotten that radio out a lot faster.
Oh yeah, that’s right…I got it out – with an ugly looking hammer.
And Mike got his out of the car he was in with his.
It was time to go.
We stuffed those two radios in the pillow case and when I was about to hit another car I heard Mike say something that changed everything.
“Jimmy. We have a problem…look!” Mike yelled as he pointed outside.
Mike was standing where we climbed on. I walked up to where he was standing and looked out.
“The train picked up speed!”
Oh my God. It was flying.
At the time, I would have said we were going 50 mph easy, but maybe now that I think about it, it was going about 25-30 mph – tops. That may not seem fast, but try saying that while hanging on the side of a train.
We didn’t know what to do. Things started to speed up. We’re like “Okay, okay…be calm.” Then we’d look out the train again and saw a sign that read GARY, as in Gary, Indiana. We needed to get off and get off fast.
We got our thoughts together and decided to get rid of the evidence. We’ll toss the hammers and the pillow case full of radios off the train and then if things go right, we’ll come back and pick them up.
We went to the other side of the train and looked out. There was just another set of tracks and a huge field. I tossed the hammers first. I tried to toss them gently and tried to remember where I tossed them, but it didn’t matter. I tried to toss them over the other side of the other set of tracks but I missed. Those hammers hit those tracks so hard they bounced right underneath the train. So much for those.
Mike tossed the pillow case of radios off the train and when they hit the ground, the whole pillowcase exploded. Those two radios flew into pieces.
So much for our BIG score.
We had to get off this train because we’re headed for Gary, Indiana… and that doesn’t mean it’s going to stop in Gary either. With our luck, we’d probably end up in Ohio somewhere if we didn’t do what we did next.
Mike thought quickly and came up with the idea of hanging on the side of the train and try to run with it – while still holding on to the train. When he thought the time was right, he would let go and just gradually slow down from running on his own.
At the time, it sounded like it’d work…
but it didn’t.
Mike took about three or four HUGE running steps and started somersaulting head-over-heels right next to the train. His boat shoes flew off in opposite directions. He had to have flipped six or seven times before veering off away from the train.
I had to have been at least 40-50 yards away before Mike came to a complete stop. He stopped in a patch of sticker bushes just to make matters worse.
“MIKE!” I yelled out from the train to see if he was all right. I saw him pick his head up and his arm signalling me he was okay.
I hung from the train like he did and decided that this was NOT for me. I climbed back in the train and decided to just run and jump off. That’s more my style.
I landed; rolled a little bit; jumped to my feet and ran over to see if Mike was okay.
He was a bit bloody, but he was okay.