San Fernando Valley Historical Society

Flagman

Flagman PoemThe poem below written by John G. Gartland, appeared in the Railroad Man's Magazine in the early 1920s and provides us with a glimpse of the life of a flagman.

Flagman

Sunning himself like a sheep-dog,
Stretching his old wooden leg,
Keeping his watch o'er the crossing
That cost him his own good leg,
Warning the passers of danger,
Safeguarding soft, human clay,
There on his bench by the shanty
Sits the old flagman all day.

**

Warden of legend and story,
Woven by toil and by time
Round his old true-love, the railroad,
Blended with blood and with grime,
Compassed by awe-stricken youngsters
Drinking in each episode,
There he sits puffing his corncob,
Telling them tales of the road.

**

Spring, summer, autumn, and winter,
Gnarled, crippled, sunny of mind,
Spry as a cricket when danger
Rides on the wings of the wind,
Year in and out he is sitting,
Gazing on rail and no tie,
There on his bench by the shanty,
Watching the wide world go by.