|"Cookies Are Out", c.1973 on the Colton Cutoff|
The cookie ladies lived on a small ranch near our main line. Their place was just a short distance west* of Sullivan's Curve. The ladies prepared small bags of cookies, and one of them would stand out by the tracks and hand them up to us. Usually they would get out to the tracks in time so that the head-end brakeman could grab a bag from the locomotive. The engineer would call the caboose on the radio and say "cookies are out". That gave us plenty of time to get ready to grab the bag. Often we would toss the cookie lady a newspaper as an exchange (there is a paper on the ballast to my left).
This process only worked when we were going west toward Palmdale. We usually were only going about fifteen miles per hour up the hill, and that gave them time enough to get out to the tracks. There was a siding about a mile from their place, and the engineer would sound the horn, and that served as notice to the ladies. Eastbound trains were usually going about twenty-five miles per hour, and that was just too fast for an exchange.
The Cajon Pass had three sets of tracks. Our's and two more that were shared by the Santa Fe and the Union Pacific. Each railroad had distinctive horns, and so the ladies could tell who was coming. We were the only ones that were treated by the ladies.
For this photograph, I enlisted the conductor to take my Rollicord with him onto the empty flat car just ahead of the caboose. The conductor may have been Kenny Burkheimer.
*The SP operated east and west from San Francisco. For simplicity sake, there was no north and south.