Sung by: Mrs. Almeda Riddle
Recorded in Heber Springs, AR 9/7/61

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(Mrs. Riddle: “This is ‘Al Bowen.’ This is the engineer that hit Number 9.”)

‘Twas Christmas night, the night was dark,
And the moon had hidden her face.
Al Bowen, a faithful engineer,
Went cheerfully to his place.

Al had a smile, kind word for all;
A courteous man was he.
His winning ways made many a friend,
As many will agree.

Before he made that fatal trip,
He cheerfully proclaimed,
“Goodbye, Mama dear; if I never come back,
I’ll love you just the same.

“I hate to make my run tonight;
My headlight is no good.
I fear some evil may take place;
I feel just like it would.

“But there’s no use to be afraid.
No extra men have we.
I’ll do my duty come what may;
What is to be will be.”

Then he took his seat inside the cab,
MacNelly by his side.
“Now keep your place, old man,” said he,
“We’ll take a flying ride.

“We’re thirty minutes late tonight;
Buck Hannon, how he’ll swear.
He’s switching now at the station . . .
I see his headlight there.

“Pile in the coal, heat her up,” said he,
“We’ve got to make up lost time.”
Then to his surprise he saw a headlight
Come streaming down the line.

“That’s old No. 9, good God,” he said,
“And she’s coming around the neck.
Oh, jump, Mac, jump; I’ll stay with her;
You’ll find me in the wreck.”

Christmas morning the searchers came
And found his body there,
But his soul had taken its flight
To Elysian fields so fair.

We never will know the cause of it;
A signal wrong was given,
But we hope we know Al’s soul’s at rest
In the faraway peaceful Heaven.

All Songs Recorded by John Quincy Wolf, Jr., unless otherwise noted

The John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection
Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas
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