By Curtis Carden
Forty-two years of working on the railroad gave George Hatcher a bevy of memories to share with the public.
Hatcher, a member of the Erwin Nine veteran group, shared recollections of working on the railroad during the Chili and George Hatchers Rail Tales event held at Erwin Town Hall on Saturday, Nov. 21. The event was orchestrated by the Clinchfield Railroad Museum.
The Unicoi County High School Bluegrass Band picked some tunes for the packed house, while chili was catered to the event by Tobys Cafe, located on Carolina Avenue in Erwin.
Following the musical performance, Hatcher took center stage to talk about his experiences on the railroad.
This is new for me, Hatcher said with a smile while addressing the crowd.
He went on to say that he has been familiar to speaking of his time with the military more than the railroad, adding that Saturday was my first time to speak about my time on the railroad.
Hatchers first day on the railroad was a bit memorable, he said, with his first day coming on Dec. 7, 1941, the same day as the Pearl Harbor attack.
It was easy to remember, but hard to forget, Hatcher added about the day.
Hatcher also spoke about his days of firing up the Clinchfield #1 engine for his brother, Ed, after the engine was refurbished and put back into operation in 1965.
Regular exercising and quitting smoking had Hatcher in the right shape to begin firing the engine for 13 years. While having the opportunity to work with his brother was hard to pass up, the job did have some perks from time to time.
While discussing one trip on the Clinchfield #1 with fellow employees, Hatcher shared a moment about going around the table when ordering breakfast: While each friend ordered just a small meal, George knew he had to get the energy to work the train. Laughs erupted from the room when Hatcher tallied his breakfast order, which included biscuits and gravy, three eggs, grits, hashbrowns and a strip of steak.
While wrapping up the ceremony, Hatcher said the railroad provided fond moments in his life, stating that a lot of laughs and memories were shared and that the railroad was good to him during his years of service.