May 23 2015

The Railroad in Cloverport

Brothers Total 133 Years of Service With The L. & N.

February 19, 1953

The three sons of the late Mr. and Mrs. Marion Behen, Hovious M., Lafe J., and Ira D. Behen, now retired, have amassed the amazing total of 133 years of railroad work. They started with the Louisville, Henderson, and St. Louis Railway (then called the “Texas” as the original name had been Louisville, St. Louis, and Texas) around the turn of the century, when apprentice machinists were paid the munificent salary of 5 cents an hour, with an annual raise to 7 ½, 15, and 20 cents, and agents helpers received $9 a month. Mechanics then earned 33 an hour and now about $2.00. The brothers who incidentally, have always made Cloverport their home, mention names still familiar here. One general foreman, N. Cordrey, still lives in Cloverport. Others mentioned were P. D. Plank (father-in law of one brother), Harry S. Hills, B. Randall, F. J. Ferry and his son, F. C. Ferry, Charles Randall, Harry Williams, and R. R. Pierce, father of Wallace, Allen, Vivian, Robert, and Fred Pierce.

Hovious Behen, eldest of the three brothers, started work in October, 1898 as an agent’s helper, later becoming agent in charge at Cloverport, and he was operator at the shops for a while. Although he worked in Owensboro for a few months, his length of service was six months over 50 years, so that he has made the unusual record of working in one town for fifty years. He retired April 1, 1949, and was given a diamond button in appreciation of his long service. He and Mrs. Behen, the former Miss Allie Haynes, have one daughter, Mrs. Adolph Kuechler of Phoenixville, Penna., and one granddaughter, Marion Kuechler.

Lafe Behen, the next brother in point of age, started work in December, 1898, as an apprentice machinist, then machinist, shop foreman, and storekeeper in charge of receipt and issue of supplies. It was when he had the misfortune while working as a machinist to lose the sight of his left eye that he was transferred to the store room. When the Cloverport shops closed he was given charge of a group of roundhouse men at South Louisville. He retired in 1932. He and Mrs. Behen, the former Miss Ann Bonner, are at present vacationing in Texas.

The youngest brother, Ira Behen, also started work as an apprentice machinist. Later he had several supervisory positions and went with the L. & N. to Louisville in 1929, working in the general office. At the time of his retirement, January 15, 1953, he was a member of the staff of the superintendent of machinery. At that time he received a gold 21 jewel Hamilton watch, known as a railroad man’s watch, with an inscription on the back in his own handwriting, giving his name and the facts. He and Mrs. Behen (the former Miss Grace Plank, daughter of the aforementioned P. D. Plank) have a daughter, Mrs. Maurice Bandy of Cloverport, and two sons, David Behen of Chicago, and John Behen of Elizabethtown, and five grandchildren, Maurice Edward, Mary Alice, and John David Bandy, and John Nelson and Mary Emily Behen.

“Mr. Ira” hung up an even fifty years of service before his retirement.

Even after his transfer to Louisville, Mr. Ira never moved but commuted back and forth. The past few years he commuted daily riding the early train to work and the evening “accommodation” to Cloverport. He was known as the finest sleeper on the train – he was generally asleep by the time the up train cleared the Tile Plant and usually before the evening train left 10th Street Station. This made about 4 1/2 hours of daily travel time, and Mr. Behen said he never could have done it by automobile!

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