"Jeff''s" Story - Fit to Make Angels Weep - 1914

Saturday, 27 February 2016 03:30 Don Gilder


Deer Lodge, July 5 - (Special.) – If some reporter, who writes the heart throb stories for the Sunday papers is looking for the makings of a good story, one so full of pathos that it is bound to bring some tears, then let him list to the sorrowful mishap that has befallen that most unfortunate of beings, Mr. “Jeff” Willsey.

For a long time “Jeff” had been figuring on surprising his old friends among the Milwaukee Pioneers by pulling off a genuine minstrel show at the Seattle meeting. Some time ago he ran across two “culled gentlemen” whom he at once took under his protecting wing. As soon as he found out they were both musically inclined, he took up all the poetry he has been writing for the past five years and had his new-found friends set it to music. He then found accommodations for his troupe in an abandoned bunk car at Alberton. Every spare moment he could get he spent in that bunk car giving rehearsals. During his absence “Owl” Drake, president of the Alberton Singerbund, would take his place. After rehearsals “Jeff” would take them out serenading some of his Alberton friends. Whether or not the friends appreciated these kind acts on “Jeff’s” part we are unable to say, but we do know that he narrowly escaped death from flying bootjacks and buckshot on more than one occasion.

But to bring a long story to a close, shortly after the last rehearsal had been held and “Jeff” had pronounced them perfect, the troupe mysteriously disappeared one night, taking everything from their instruments to “Jeff’s” reputation with them. To make matters worse, when the special left for Seattle, “Jeff” was unable to secure a lay-off and so could not go. Kind reader should you be standing near the Milwaukee passenger station in Missoula some day and see a disconsolate being hanging out of the cab window on the right hand side of engine 5612, do not pass him by without a word of comfort, for remember, although it be only a single word of greeting, it may be the means of sending a little ray of hope and sunshine shooting through the sorrowful soul of poor old “Jeff.”

The above article appeared in the July 6, 1914 Missoulian in the section for railroads, titled “NEWS OF THE RAILROADERS IN MISSOULA AND ABROAD.”