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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 11 (March 1, 1929)

The Loco Motive

The Loco Motive.

When the Serpent asked little Cain what he was going to be when he grew up, Cain concealed a ribstone pippin under his toga and answered without hesitation, “Injin-driver, Mr. Serp.”

But is it recorded that Adam encouraged the infant Cain's ambition? On the contrary, the indications are that he was adam-ant in his opposition and that he booked the boy back to the farm.

From the days of Cain and Abel to these times of strain and babel young Cains have been assuring old serpents that they hope, when they come to years of disrespect, to achieve their ambition, “in loco parentis,” which, translated freely, means driving an engine without the old man's consent.

But how many of these engineers-in-the-egg (so to speak) answer the roll-call at the hatching?

It has been said (with little truth) that telegraph boys are the young of postmen. If this be so, where are the young of engine-drivers? Strangled at birth, horrified reader, their loco motives literally wrung out of them, like whisky dregs from a Scotsman's whiskers. There are some of course who, through sheer grit, or cinders (whichever you will), have achieved their ambition to frivol about under the hind-quarters of a locomotive—quiescent, with an oil can in one hand and a hard-boiled luncheon egg in the other; but we of the great majority—having failed to connect with the foot-plate—must needs be content with the footpath, and still contemplate that colossal collation of combustiveness, the steam engine, with the fishy eye of wonder.

There is something so feverishly palpitating, so pantingly portentious, about an engine with oily sweat dripping down its sides and its heels steaming. It looks as if it might throw up its tail and gallop round the yard breathing fire and soot. It is an out-size black stallion—with its ears back.

But there are Scots, even, who would rather drive an engine than a bargain. Fortunate is the child who is born with pure engine-driver's blood coursing darkly through his veins.