RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 10 . . Work . . Part 2
RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. This is Part 2 of Chapter 10 . . . Work. A new part will be posted every Thursday. Recent chapters stand alone, starting here; however new readers may want to start at the beginning.
CHAPTER 10 . . . WORK . . . Part 2
Charles Billmeyer and David E. Small went on a railcar business and sales trip to New York City in November of 1865. With the end of the Civil War, the expansion of the nations railroads accelerated. Billmeyer & Small were eager to get wider exposure for their railcars to become a larger player in this industry. Plans were already moving ahead to expand their York Car Works.
George Billmeyer looked through a few of the newspapers that his Dad brought back from that trip. One story caught his attention in The New York Saturday Press. It was a story about Jim Smiley and his Jumping Frog.
George showed the story to Dan, “You have to read this story. It is supposed to be about a jumping frog, however very little of the story is about Smiley’s frog named Daniel Webster. This guy, Mark Twain, has a comical way of seemingly avoiding telling stories, by lapsing into tall tales; in the end the whole thing is funny. I asked my Dad to keep a lookout for more of these stories writing by Mark Twain.”
After Dan read the story, George tells Dan, “We should train a jumping frog.” Dan responds, “I had that same thought.”
That Saturday they catch seven frogs in the Codorus Creek. Dan and George bring the frogs back to an area they had prepared in the stable. This area contained a grassy area formed from a large piece of sod they brought back from the banks of the creek; plus a large deep tray of water.
They test all their frogs for jumping ability. They could get only three to make a passable jump. The other four frogs immediately went back to the Codorus Creek.
George always assumed that Dan could apply his horse training skills to training frogs. Dan assumed that George had some idea on how to train frogs, since he brought up the idea. Dan and George soon realize they have no idea how to train a frog.
They looked at Mark Twain’s story again. Smiley planned “to educate” the frog, but no clues are given how this was done. Smiley spent three months doing nothing but sitting in his backyard and “teaching” the frog to jump. George and Dan certainly were not going to do nothing but train these frogs for the next three months.
The boys kept the frogs in the stable, but soon started to loose interest. They were still trying to come up with a plan to train the frogs. With cold weather on the way, it was becoming harder to catch flies, moths, grasshoppers and crickets to feed the frogs.
George had the idea that they try to mix up food pellets and see if they could get the frogs to eat them. The boys tried various combinations of ingredients. From their whole assortment of food pellets, the only combination of ingredients the frogs ate consisted of dried fish, crushed oats and a little sugar.
One day, just for the fun of it, Dan took one of these pellets, stuck grass blades onto it, resembling wings, and held it over the frogs at the end of a string. One of the frogs immediately jumped up and grabbed the pellet.
George exclaimed, “That it! That’s how we train the frogs.”
At feeding time each day, they hung their “pellet flies” a little higher, forcing the frogs to jump higher each day for their food. In a few weeks they reached a point where one of the frogs could no longer jump high enough to reach the food; that frog was returned to the Codorus Creek. A month later the two remaining jumping frogs were reduced to one by a similar elimination.
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