Johnny Cafe Knowledge

For many years on the Railroad I worked into Glasgow, Montana and spent more hours than I care to think about in the Johnny Café, eating and drinking coffee. Amazing what you learn in a Greasy Spoon on the other end of the Railroad line. The café had a lot of booths and some 2 person booths were attached to 4 person booths, so it was very hard not to overhear the next booth’s conversation even for a deaf person.

Old Railroader going on his last run

One particular day I sat adjacent to an older man and a younger one. The younger one was from back East and visiting the older man who was from Scobey in northeastern Montana. The younger fellow was talking about the wind and how it always seemed to blow when he came to visit. He finally asked the older man what native Montanan’s did when the wind didn’t blow? The older man replied that we all play softball that “One” day. End of conversation.

Another time I sat next to an older retired Engineer from Glasgow. His sons worked for the Railroad so I knew the old guy fairly well. That particular morning the conversation turned to the dreaded mosquitoes that attacked you instantly when you ventured outside anywhere in Glasgow that summer. I asked the old boy if he could ever remember a summer when the mosquitoes were any worse? He looked at me and said there isn’t a “Single” mosquito in Glasgow. After an awkward silence he said, “All these mosquitoes are married and have large families.” Railroad education early in the morning comes from all sources.


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  1. Sue Bliss Roach says:

    Good one — love the mosquito story…how true 🙂

  2. Dan Ellis says:

    I kinda miss Johnnie Cafe. If you got off the train and went over for bisquig a & gravy, you better walk quickly to the motel cuz that stuff went right through you.

  3. Elena Jarman says:

    I am warmed by your memories Russ. I loved being your conductor and listening to you. You made an impact on my life and my career. Bless your heart and thank you!

  4. Duane says:

    Bowl of gravy and a stop watch!!!

  5. jewelz says:

    Johnny’s Cafe…they could screw up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

  6. Carla Peck Johnson says:

    The mosquitoes are especially bad this summer in Havre, so the mosquito story is timely, Russ.
    I’ve heard about Johnny’s Cafe and how a person had to eat and run! LOL

  7. Roxanne says:

    Terry says, “They fed you “that stuff” so you would eat and run and make room for the next patron!”

  8. Lori says:

    ha ha ha.. I love the wise expressions of an older person.. thank you for the story!!

  9. Mark Lawyer says:

    Buddy Erickson was my uncle and he worked up there. I’m trying to find out if the Johnny Café is still in Glasgow. Did they move it?

  10. Slim says:

    Mark, sorry I didn’t see this till now.. They closed up the wonderful old cafe and no I don’t think they moved it anywhere.. By the way I knew Buddy really well.. Good Man.

  11. Steve says:

    I rode the Empire Builder many times from Everett, WA to Glasgow, once even to Chicago. In the winter many passengers feared flying, were farmers, or rail employees – or all three! Great trips. Had a compartment, ate in the dining car. I hear the latter are going away, too bad. One winter during a snowstorm, around Glacier I think, we were rear-ended by a freight. Retired railroaders were especially outraged.

  12. Steve says:

    BTW, I ate aften at the Johnny, food wasn’t that bad – tho I never eat biscuits & gravy. I recall their ham was plentiful & pretty good.

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