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Folkston Train Depot

by Lois Barefoot Mays

In the 1950s, trains from Waycross brought the US mail and newspapers in the morning. Then at noon, “The Boogie,” arrived from Jesup and points north. 

The depot was in two levels. The main office and two waiting rooms were on ground floor, and a very large freight-bay was built on the same level as the floor of freight train cars. When unloading the train, it sat on the track even with freight-bay, and a heavy flat sheet of metal about 6 foot square was used as a bridge. 

The Folkston Train Depot was run by two workers.

My Father, William Lonnie Barefoot,  or "Mr. Foots" as he was known, was the Express Agent / Ticket Agent or Depot Agent. He sold tickets to mostly Waycross or Jacksonville. He accepted freight from the freight-trains, kept up with the paperwork on each item received and delivered said freight to folks who were looking for it to come in. They came in their pickups or wagons, usually with a helper, and Daddy pointed out their rolls of fence wire or barrels of nails, etc and they drove up close to platform and dumped it into their vehicles, and signed the receipt. Daddy filed the little paper in the proper folder and put the money collected in a safe in the office. One of the paperwork forms for each express item was called a Bill of Laden. 

Charles Southward was a hard working black man who had two main jobs:

One: getting the mail sacks from the platform while the  train was still in station, putting them on cart, (sometime a two wheel, sometimes a four wheel cart), and pulling or pushing it for three blocks to the back of the post office. He banged on the locked door, P.O. Clerks were lexpecting him for they could hear when train came. He shoved the mail sacks into the building and turned around and took the cart back to the depot without stopping. No stopping to chat with Clerk. That was U.S. Mail and was treated differently from Express items. Back at the depot he kept the fire going in the little pot-bellied coal stove, and swept out the office and two waiting rooms.

Two: He helped pull freight packages from the trains onto the platform and then into the freight-bay, and helped customers get their freight if they hadn’t brought a helper.

My Father was easily the most popular man in Folkston. His personality often drew the menfolks to gather because of his outspoken views on politics. When his friends had some time to spare they enjoyed visiting the depot, and much laughter ensued.

from DeBrahm's Report
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