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Last 'live' ticket taker on MARC line retires

July 05, 2010|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- After 42 years working "on the railroad," Barb Eichelberger said she isn't going to miss getting up every day at 2:45 a.m. to get to the Brunswick (Md.) MARC station ahead of her riders.

There, in addition to selling tickets, she had hot coffee ready by 5 a.m. for anyone who needed a cup. On holidays, she decorated the station accordingly to cheer up anyone coming or going.

But as of June 8, Eichelberger has retired -- the last"live" ticket agent on the MARC line.

"I'd leave my house in Hagerstown by 3 a.m.," she said recently, still trying to adapt to a new sleep schedule with no work to report to anymore.

Her career began in 1968 with the Western Maryland Railway when she was just 18.

"My dad, Harold 'Ike' Eichelberger, worked for Western Maryland and he told me there was a job if I wanted to apply," she said. "I got the job."

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Eichelberger's first job was as a clerk, doing clerical duties.

"I learned on the job at the South Burhans Boulevard office," she said. Later, when the clerical clerks -- then with CSX -- were eliminated in Hagerstown, she went to Martinsburg, W.Va., to do similar work.

"There I learned to be a train operator, giving signals to the trains," Eichelberger said.

She did those duties until seven years ago, when she went to Brunswick. Each day, two MARC trains emanate from Martinsburg and four from Brunswick, all headed to the Washington metropolitan area loaded with commuters.

She said she knew a lot of those MARC commuters and will miss them.

"It is truly the end of an era," Eichelberger said, not just for MARC, but for her, too.

But she said she is happy to be around Hagerstown more so she can be with her grandchildren.

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