Dear Sill Middle School: The crash of the Doodlebug, on July 31, 1940, affected my life forever. I am probably one of the few surviving relatives of victims of that crash. On a Wednesday evening my brother aged six and I (Daddy's little girl) aged eight were to make our weekly trip to the Akron Passenger Union Depot to pick up my dad (Russell Way). My mother called to see if the Doodlebug was to be on time, and she was informed, "Lady that train has been involved in a horrible accident." After visiting several funeral homes where the bodes had been taken, she was able to identify his charred remains. His railroad watch was still ticking, and my brother to this day has the watch encased in a display case. I believe Clifford Funeral Home in Cuyahoga Falls has a picture of the Doodlebug in its lobby. I don't know what kind of settlement was received, but my today's standards, it was minimal. That was a time before it was customary for women to work, and my unskilled mother, who spent 54 years as a widow, worked many years on menial low paying jobs to support my brother and me. As a side light a ten year old boy who I didn't know, who later was to become my husband was playing baseball in the backyard of an apartment where my father once lived, when a friend came back from the crash site and explained to him the gory details. It brings back sad memories, but I am delighted that Sill Middle School is taking the initiative to build a memorial to those people who gave their lives and deprived so many of us of our loved ones. Bonnie Way Riley
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