The Term: Caboose
The first cabooses, not unlike the nautical originals, were wooden shanties built on flatcars, as early as the 1830s.
The first written evidence of the usage of caboose in a railroad context appeared in 1859 (not 1861, as cited by the Online Etymology Dictionary), as part of court records in conjunction with a lawsuit filed against the New York and Harlem Railway. This suggests that caboose was probably in circulation among North American railroaders well before the mid-nineteenth century.
The railroad historian David L. Joslyn, a retired Southern Pacific Railroad draftsman, has connected caboose to kabhuis, a Middle Dutch word referring to the compartment on a sailing ship's main deck in which meals were prepared. Kabhuis is believed to have entered the Dutch language circa 1747 as a derivation of the obsolete Low German word kabhuse, which also described "wooden cabin" erected on a ship's main deck. However, further research indicates that this relationship was more indirect than that described by Joslyn.
Eighteenth century French naval records make reference to a cambose or camboose, which term described the food preparation cabin on a ship's main deck, as well as the range within. The latter sense apparently entered American naval terminology around time of the construction of the USS Constitution, whose wood-burning food preparation stove is officially referred to as the camboose. These nautical usages are now obsolete: camboose and kabhuis became the galley when meal preparation was moved below deck, camboose the stove became the galley range, and kabhuis the cookshack morphed into kombuis, which means kitchen in Afrikaans.
It is likely that camboose was borrowed by American sailors who had come into contact with their French counterparts during the American Revolution (recall that France was an ally and provided crucial naval support during the conflict). A New English Dictionary citation from the 1940s indicates that camboose entered English language literature in a New York Chronicle article from 1805 describing a New England shipwreck, in which it was reported that "[Survivor] William Duncan drifted aboard the canboose [sic]." From this it could be concluded that camboose was part of American English by the time the first railroads were constructed. As the first cabooses were wooden shanties erected on flat cars (as early as the 1830s) they would have resembled the cook shack on the (relatively flat) deck of a ship, explaining the adoption and subsequent corruption of the nautical term.
There is some disagreement on what constitutes the proper plural form of the word "caboose." Similar words, like goose (pluralized as "geese"), and moose (pluralized as "moose," no change) point to the reason for the difficulty in coming to a consensus. The most common pluralization of caboose is "cabooses," with some arguing that this is incorrect, and, as with the word moose, it should stay the same in plural form—that is, "caboose" should represent one or many. A less-seriously used pluralization of the word is "cabeese," following the pluralization rule for the word goose, which is "geese." This particular form is almost universally used in an attempt at humor (as, presumably, are "cabice" and "caboosii"). Source: Wikipedia
FRED, The End of an Era
The Pennsylvania Railroad and LIRR officially referred to cabooses as "cabin cars".
LIRR hacks were used as a freight conductor’s office even with their own desk built into the wall to do their paperwork. The desk was even illuminated by a wall-mounted kerosene lamp in some cases. These desks and lamps were still in place in some hacks as late as the mid-1970s.
Cabooses, in general, were used as bunk houses for the crew which usually consisted of the freight conductor and two freight brakemen. As the LIRR was a short-distance road, unlike the Pennsy which had freights that could’ve run overnight, they may have had no need to use their bunks and they may even have been removed over the years and used for storage, but originally the intent of the bunks was for crews to rest.
LIRR hacks were used to cook meals and were quite good. Personally, I never had a meal cooked on a pot belly stove. Of course in later years, the cooking ceased in the cars, but they did at one time cook meals. This cooking was done over the coal fired, cast-iron stove that was located in each of the older hacks. Contrary to some belief, those stoves were not installed specifically for heat, although they did provide heat for the car while the hack was not connected to the train during switching and while in the yard prior to a run.
As you can see, this is a stove with large, flat cooking surface on top and not a stove that was provided solely for heating. Also notice the cast-iron back stop to keep spatter as well as grease fires from scorching the walls of the hack.
The steel hacks were
equipped by the crews with Coleman Gasoline stoves which were quite
reliable. It was usually the flagman's job to prepare the meals.
Concerning the crew consist; two brakemen were used on most MA trains and
three were required on any MA job where a cross over move was part of
their regular routine; think
The pot belly stove in #12 hack was used for heat during winter and that it did have an exhaust stack connected to the outdoors. Info: J.J. Earl
In the earliest days the
bunks were indeed used for overnights at the end of the line. As
time progressed, the crews on both freight and passenger consists that
laid over in Greenport were given room and board "chits" and
went up the street to one of the hotels or rooming houses for the night.
The Montauk freight went close to Indian owned property. The population of the reservation included a few Indians that were Gandy Dancers that first worked out of Hicksville and then later on out of Riverhead. I had the privilege to work with them when I was 16 years old. When I went into engine service it was a regular duty ,of mine, to call the men I knew, to tell them where we hit deer, after Amaganset. They always met the train on the way west to deliver steaks and roasts. I never got squirrel steaks.
There was a retired Conductor at Amaganset that met the eastbound passenger trains that took orders for Bay Scallops and delivered them, by the quart, on the westbound. They cost $2.50 a qt in cardboard containers. The engineer Tommy Rome, had a standing order for 3 qts every time he went east. It was a tough timetable to get the scallops on the right day, The Montauk ran 7 days on and 3 days off. By the way, I have never had a bad meal in a Hack.
Info: Ed Schleyer
Caboose Slang Terms