RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 14 . . Centennial . . Part 3
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 3 of Chapter 14 . . . Centennial. 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 14 . . . CENTENNIAL . . . Part 3
Dan enjoyed the independence offered by his newly purchased home along East Philadelphia Street. He took in two boarders to help pay the mortgage. Both of the boarders worked in the shops at Billmeyer & Smalls.
Three nights a week his house hosted a get-together to play cards. George Billmeyer would occasionally join them, however Henry Small, the son of David E. Small, never missed a night.
On Thursday November 25th, 1875, Dan was eating breakfast when he heard someone banging on the front door. It was Henry Small. Out of breath, he uttered, “You’ve got to get up to the Billmeyer House, Charles died last night.”
With tears in his eyes, Dan ran to the Billmeyer House. He knew Charles had been sick two weeks ago, but appeared to be fully recovered the last time he saw him; he was only 51-years-old.
Tearfully, Dan offered his condolences to the Billmeyer children and to David & Mary Small who were talking to the minister in the parlor. George told him, “Dad went to bed same as usual last night. In the middle of the night, his sister Lizzie, in the next room, heard him breath very heavily. She got up to check on him, however in only that short time, he had passed away.”
Dan helped out wherever he could in getting ready for the funeral. However the death of Elizabeth three years ago and now Charles was too much for him. He found a quiet place in the Billmeyer House and reflected upon everything this family meant to him. He remembered the first time that Charles spotted him sitting by the gravestone of James Smith, as a substitute for the gravestone of his parents, many miles away.
Fifteen years ago, Charles and Elizabeth Billmeyer took in a lonely, despondent, 9-year-old orphan and treated him like a son. He could not have asked for better foster parents after his Mother, Father and all his siblings died in that tragic ferry accident on the Delaware River.
The funeral on Saturday was largely attended. The large turn out by employees of Billmeyer & Smalls was not unexpected, however the turn out of many of the employees of the cross-town rival car manufacturer Empire Car Works was an unexpected comforting sight.
A week later, while Dan was hard at work painting a railcar, George Billmeyer brisk-fully strode into the paint area. George called, “Dan, stop what your doing. You’ve got to see this order.” George handed Dan the paper.
Dan looked over the order from General William J. Palmer of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. He was ordering 260 eight-wheeled cars and four first class passenger cars.
Dan congratulated George, “Wow, congratulations George, the Billmeyer & Smalls Grand Pavilion in Philadelphia has already paid off with a huge order. Can I spread this news around the shop?”
George replied, “Yes spread it around, it will be posted around the works by Henry Small shortly. However look closely at the order details for the four first class passenger cars.”
Dan looked at the order again; one of the passenger cars was to be named “Billmeyer,” in memory of Charles Billmeyer. Dan was speechless for a minute, and then uttered, “That is really nice.”
George said, “And that’s not all. When David Small saw this order with the Billmeyer car, he told me, ‘I want the sign over the Grand Pavilion to read, Billmeyer & Smalls in smaller letters over Charles Billmeyer Grand Pavilion in larger letters.’ The first day that the weather cooperates for repainting the sign, we’re headed to Philadelphia.”
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