Some people asked me to do this and I finally have free time for it. My grandpa has lived a pretty amazing/colorful life. I will be spending the day with him helping answer questions. Some of his stories are pretty amazing so any of the answers that require more than about a paragraph to answer, he has agreed to answer with a video response.

He has also taken on and won a fight involving his entire high school basket ball team, hit an elephant with a train, eaten a scoop of all 31 flavors of baskin robbins ice cream in one sitting, was a detective/yard security guard for union pacific railroad, and much more.

I will be back in a couple of hours to start answering questions/posting verification.

Edit: I realize the internet is an impatient place, but please know I'm trying to get the best detail I can in a small enough snippet for you guys to read. I'm also recording some of his responses so it is taking some time. I'm glad you guys are interested, but answering an AMA for someone is a bit more time consuming than I had originally anticipated.

Edit 2: For those of you asking for advice for a "blank" year old, the only advice I can give is get an education, and be true to yourself.

Verification: http://i.imgur.com/Hd3xS.jpg Union Pacific Proof: http://i.imgur.com/zL6sF.jpg

Comments: 854 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

KingOCarrotFlowers500 karma

Okay, I'm going to need to hear the story about the murderous spouse.

DavetheBull506 karma

This story seems to have suffered a bit of the telephone syndrome as it went through my family.

My ex-wife remarried some real asshole of a guy. At some point in time he had procured a bottle of acid and was searching for someone that would be willing to toss the acid in my face. I don't know why, I'm just assuming the guy didn't like me very much. Anyway, he finally came across someone that was willing to do it, but when the husband told the would-be acid thrower I was the target he refused. It turns out he was a good friend of mine and knew I had a reputation.

Bucky_Ohare214 karma

Alright, the elephant/train thing definitely requires further elaboration!

DavetheBull190 karma

Video response coming soon. As for the proof, it wasn't something that was made a big deal of outside of Union Pacific. There was no derailment, collision, or stoppage, so it was treated as just another animal getting hit by the train.

Edit: Video response here: http://youtu.be/V-n-zs9WRa0
I apologize for the audio quality. I'm recording on my phone and it kind of sucks.

scarflash524 karma

So union pacific thought it was irrelephant?

I'll see my way out.

JKobyP35 karma

Hit an elephant with a train, but there was no collision.

Guys, I think we're dealing with a badass more potent than Newton. Newton may have discovered some laws of physics, but this guy outright destroyed them.

DavetheBull28 karma

By "collision" I mean that in terms of to trains colliding. It would be silly for UP to take reports of every single incident of an animal being hit by a train. Seeing as this incident cause no damage to UP property, there was really no reason to report the accident as a "collision".

whosdamike145 karma

I am EXTREMELY interested in proof. If true, then the list of rail accidents on Wikipedia needs to be updated. It lists the most recent incident of a train hitting an elephant as 1885. A Google search of "Union Pacific" and "elephant" comes up with nothing relevant, even when "accident" or "crash" is added to the search terms.

This would make sense if the OP were Doc Brown, but I have my doubts.

EDIT: Folks, there are ALL KINDS of explanations for how the OP's claim could possibly be true. But I'm not looking for an infinity of explanations. I'm looking for a single explanation, backed up by proof from the OP. That's what EVERYONE in /r/IAmA should be seeking.

EDIT 2: I'm happy the OP has delivered basic proof of occupation. So now we know we're not all being trolled.

Jacelius32 karma

He may or may not have told public that it ever happened though.

whosdamike26 karma

So the owner of the train, possible owners of the elephant, the people running the railroad, etc. all stayed silent in a gigantic train elephant crash conspiracy? They cleaned up and repaired all the damage without reporting it to anyone, not even an insurance company? They hid the incident from government safety inspectors? And after possibly decades of silence, he decided to reveal the truth by bragging to a bunch of Redditors?

Okay, fine. But I'd like to see proof.

Extraordinary claims, extraordinary evidence, etc.

DavetheBull13 karma

There was minimal damage since it was a baby elephant (maybe 5' tall). It was akin to hitting a moose or an elk. As for the people on the railroad and the people that heard him call it in, it was more of a joke than anything else. What Barnum and Bailey did about it, he has no idea.

DavetheBull17 karma

I apologize for how long that took. As for the elephant being hit, it was a baby elephant (maybe 5' tall) from a Barnum and Bailey train car headed to Pocatello. It had left about an hour and a half before we left the yard. For some reason the baby wasn't chained up and the doors were open, so it must have slid out when they took the corner.

The list of rail accidents doesn't have every moose, elk, deer, cow, etc. ever hit because those aren't really accidents. When I hit the elephant, it got thrown to the west bound tracks and was cleared by UP just as any other animal would have been.

muayguy115 karma

First of all... thank your grandpa on my part, I had a pretty bad ass grandpa myself. Now for the questions:

  1. How did the story behind his wife trying to kill him end up?

  2. what did you mean with the basketball team fight? He kicked a whole basketball team's ass or was him in a brawl which involved his basketball team?

  3. What kind of jobs he had for the gypsies and italians? As I read it, sounds like it could be something sketchy... and if so... how did he end up running for Sheriff?

  4. Has he ever been knocked out? Has he ever knocked people senseless?

  5. What kind of manly facial hair style did he have in his prime?

  6. What dirty things did he find out during his detective days? Was he ever pressured to "let go" an investigation?


DavetheBull41 karma

  1. Answered here: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/yfo1z/iama_75_year_old_retired_union_pacific_engineer/c5v6uqj
  2. Video One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cRpSB7Uy2o Video Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7A5lEd6ypM
  3. The Italian, Dewy Sinoni, was a bondsman who had an office across the street from the jail I worked at. We started talking one day and he offered me very well paying side jobs to go around the country and bring back people that skipped bail/hearings. As for the gypsies, if there was someone troubling to them, whether they owed him money or something else, and I would go and talk to them. I had to let them know that if they didn't pay the consequences would be pretty serious.
  4. I've never been knocked out. I've fallen and slammed my head on concrete but have yet to be knocked out. As for knocking someone senseless, that's happened a bit. I was going to see a friend of mine when I was in high school and decided to cut across the high school property. When I got around the corner I saw a circle of kids around a friend of mine and another guy from school. When I got up to them I stepped up and told the guy he should just go on his way. He didn't like that and went to throw a punch. I happened to throw mine first, and with one punch he was out on the ground. Ever since that incident, people always either wanted to fight me, or wanted me to fight with them which is what led to the basketball game incident.
  5. He had a pretty epic mustache when he was much younger. Now he has a Walter-White-esque goatee.
  6. Never pressured to let go of an investigation. Most of the detective work was loss prevention in the rail yard.

dkaeone85 karma

I used to hop freight.

As a bull, did you encounter any train hoppers that you let ride the train, once you confirmed that they knew what they were doing?

DavetheBull124 karma

Nope. I just kicked everyone off. More so for their own safety and the safety of others. After seeing what I have I wouldn't recommend train hopping for anyone.

mnnmnmnnm57 karma

What have you seen?

DavetheBull192 karma

I pulled a girl that had been raped and beaten by 4 guys from Nebraska to Utah on her way to marry her boyfriend in California. Also ID'd two girls at the tracks at the start of my shift (11pm) and informed them they were trespassing. Near the end of my shift I was called to check out a body at the north end of the yard that turned out to be one of the girls I saw at the beginning of my shift. She was naked and looked like she was tossed from the train on to the gravel at about 70mph.

Also, most of the people I interacted with and kicked off the train were people that didn't want to get asked why they were hitch-hiking. Some horrible people ride the trains because they don't have to worry about the cops as much.

tzarok56 karma

Are the gypsies as crazy and everyone makes them out to be? Would love to hear more there!

DavetheBull60 karma

I really don't think so. I think they are decent. They just have a different lifestyle that's for sure. They are good at conning people, really good pickpockets. All those funny things about them are mostly true, but that is just their culture.

loki_racer29 karma

Decent? Roma are well known for being as crooked as they come. I've been all over Europe and the only time I've ever been remotely scared for my safety is when I stopped to help a "stranded" car and my Jeep was rushed by a bunch of Roma hiding in the bushes. I don't think they expected my Jeep with a lift and 35's to be able to haul balls.

DavetheBull44 karma

If the like you, they will do anything for you. If they don't, then they either don't want anything to do with you, or will do anything to screw you over.

Fortunately for me, they liked me.

Temptress7551929 karma

you were born to a generation that experienced the depression and had your formative years through a time of war, and saw adulthood in the united states' most wealthy and influential time of its history. Frugal parents, grew up with rationing a normal affair then plunged into an era of abundant wealth. What do you see as the most influential event/factor of your life?

DavetheBull46 karma

I was living in Hawaii with my wife and her son with a daughter on the way. A friend of ours owned a boat and invited me to a luau on one of the other islands. As we are heading out, he didn't check the Coast Guard weather report for boats his size and we ended up going head first into an incredible storm in the middle of the night.

My friend is doing the best to navigate the water, but it is just coming from all sides and tossing his boat around the water like a toy. I can't swim, I've never been able to. I can't even float. Even after putting on a life jacket, that night was the first time I KNEW I was going to die. There had been plenty of times when I should have died, or have thought I might, but for some reason I just KNEW I was going to die...

Well, as it turns out I was wrong. We navigated the storm but ran out of gas in the middle of the ocean and waited about 4 hours for rescue. But that night made me really think about what I was doing with my life and where it was going. I had a step-son and a daughter on the way, with a wife that depended on me and I needed to get my shit together. That was probably the most influential event in my life.

BBQsauce188 karma

Is this the same wife that tried to have you killed?

DavetheBull16 karma

No. She was my first wife, this was with my second and current wife.

mikey42029 karma

What kind of jobs for gypsies? What kind of jobs for Italians? Why did he hit an elephant with a train? Why did his wife try to have him killed?

DavetheBull23 karma

All of the jobs were legal, in a sense. I was a jailer for Salt Lake County Jail at the time and did side jobs for these guys.

Gypsies: I would usually be the guy sent to remind people they owed money and that they should pay up or the consequences would be fairly severe. At one time I had to retrieve, what they called the "Gypsy King's" daughter from a rival gyspy clan from Nevada.
Italians: Mostly just the one, Dewy Sinoni. He was a bondsman I had become friends with and he would pay me to collect people all over the country to make sure they served their time and he wouldn't be out his money.
Elephant was on the tracks and he wasn't really sure it was what it was until it was too late. How would you react if you thought you saw an elephant in the middle of Utah?

bakers9020 karma

Any tips on riding the rails nowdays? You know, hobo style?

peaceisoverrated56 karma

Coming from a BNSF worker... Don't.

DavetheBull50 karma

Exactly. Just don't do it. There are a lot of degenerates that hop trains and it's better to not risk getting mixed up with them. Think of it this way, a lot of people that hop trains do it because they don't want to get caught hitch-hiking.

blink0r19 karma

I currently work for the largest railway in Canada and I'd like to know of all the technological changes to come about on the railway in your time, what was the most significant and your favourite?

DavetheBull53 karma

I didn't care for it so much, but when they started to computerize everything on the engine. It took away some of your ability to run it the way you wanted to run it. You're not in total control like you used to be.

Air-conditioning was one, better heating was the second. They did away with the dead man which was really nice. You used to have to keep your foot on the dead man, and when you took your foot off of it, it would set the air and stop the train. Also, one of the neatest things they've done is put a bathroom on the damn engine.

xGGN12 karma

My dad finds all sort of things along the rails while working for union pacific, whats the most interesting things you've seen or found by the tracks?

DavetheBull24 karma

I wouldn't say they are interesting, but the things you never forget are the bodies. Parts of bodies, chewed up bodies... I walked the tracks for a mile one day with a black garbage bag just picking up chunks.

[deleted]9 karma


DavetheBull16 karma

I've never done anything illegal. All of the work I did for the gypsies and Dewy Sinoni was legal (at the time). I luckily never had to kill anyone, but threatened it plenty to get the job done.

yellowboheme8 karma

What did you do that was legal at the time but is no longer legal?

EDIT: I'm assuming that's what this response is implying.

DavetheBull12 karma

When I would get people for Dewy I would inform the people on the plane that I was part of the SLC Sheriff's department. I would let them know I was armed and intend to bring a handcuffed person on the plane. I would usually talk to the pilot and ask that I would be the first on the plane and the last to leave... Stuff like that you can't do any more.

Debbi3d9 karma

Are you the guy whose wife tried to have him killed then you scoffed at the idea of her paying 2 grand and not outsourcing the job to a hitman in Chicago or New york?

DavetheBull9 karma


p3rdurabo7 karma

More about the gipsies please

DavetheBull3 karma

It was mostly just visiting people and telling them to pay the gypsies what they owed or else.

The best one was when I was asked to go find the "Gypsy King's" daughter. Apparently she wanted to get married to a guy in a clan from Nevada but the King wasn't okay with it. So the clan from Nevada decided it would be in their best interest to kidnap her. Once they found out where she was, I was sent to pick her up.
The address was a run down shack of a house. I went to knock, but tried the door first and it turned out to be open. I walk in to find the girl being loaded up with drugs by 4 guys that had obviously been taking their turns with her. When they saw me and asked what I was doing there, I told them I was there to get the girl.
Three of the men started walking at me saying the didn't think that was going to happen, so I pulled out my revolver and just said, "I'm leaving with her." They calmly stepped aside, I picked her up, and we were on our way.

guerillaboy7 karma

What was your most memorable odd job you ran for the Gypsies or Italians?

DavetheBull9 karma

Rescuing the Gypsy King's daughter from a rival gypsy clan.

ItsTyrrellYo5 karma

Now, I notice that you mentioned running for sheriff and nearly being killed by your ex-wife, but the ice cream story needs some expansion.

Why were you in such a position to eat all that ice cream?

Which was your favourite type?

Which was your least favourite type?

Did it put you off ice cream for a while?

DavetheBull10 karma

I recorded a video response to this but my phone decided to screw it up so here is a typed version.

I was working for Utah Power and Light Co. (UPALCO) up in Logan doing some survey work with four other guys. UPALCO put us up in a motel and across the street was a Baskin Robbins that was advertising 31 flavors of ice cream. One day we decide to head in there after a light dinner to get some desert and as a joke I said, "I should probably just order a scoop of each since I can't decide."
The guys with me decided to turn it into a dare and said they would pay for my food if I ordered a scoop of all 31 flavors. When the waitress came by to take our order that's exactly what I did. I told her I wanted her to get the biggest bowl they had and put a scoop of each flavor in there, sprinkle it with nuts, chocolate syrup, strawberries... everything they had and to not forget the cherry on the top.
She leaves and a few moments later the manager comes out and asks who ordered and how we were paying for it. We all explained the situation and the manager said, "If you can eat all of that, I'LL pay for it. Your guys' ice cream will be on the house." So a few minutes go by and finally the waitress comes out with this giant bowl, sets it in front of me, and I just start into it.
In my mind, I thought the faster I eat it, the more I'll be able to eat. So I just start shoveling ice cream into my mouth. About half way through I realized what I had done/was doing was incredibly stupid, but by now people weren't leaving and a small group had assembled outside to watch through the windows.
I finally managed to get the last spoonful down, and for some reason I decided to lick the bowl clean as a sort of victory dance. Once I was done, the manager said he couldn't believe what he had just witnessed and said once again that the ice cream was on the house. My friends and I left back to our motel to spend the rest of the evening playing chess/watching tv.
About 10 minutes after getting back to the motel, I became incredibly nauseated and began throwing up what I had just shoveled down. The worst part about it, was that it was coming up still frozen. From what the doctor told me, I packed so much frozen ice cream into my stomach so quickly that it didn't have time to melt and began freezing into chunks. Apparently I'm lucky to be alive. This happened around 1961.

When eating that much ice cream you don't really have a most or least greatest flavor. But my favorite is probably caramel. As for it putting me off? Not really. I really like my ice cream.

meatb4ll5 karma

What is your opinion on having high speed trains in this country?

Also, how would that affect the existing rail systems?

What was the most interesting thing that happened as an engineer?

Thank you for doing this.

DavetheBull5 karma

I would love to see the day of having high speed trains. I think they would be two separate entities though and the effect would be minimal. And I would have to say the most interesting thing would have to be hitting the elephant.

GoogleIsMyJesus4 karma

I'm a railfan. Your grandfathers life sounds very interesting. But I'll ask about the trains. Where did he run? Did he work on steam at all?

DavetheBull7 karma

My main run was from Salt Lake to Green River. I borrowed out to San Antonio and San Jose, Texas for a bit after Union Pacific bought out Southern Pacific.

I could have gone anywhere out of Salt Lake but Green River was the largest mileage run out of Salt Lake.

powerfulsquid3 karma

What was your favorite flavor?

DavetheBull3 karma

After much laughter: It all kind of came together... but I liked caramel.

foslforever2 karma

What do you think about the progressive graffiti painted on the freight trains in the last 30 years?

DavetheBull3 karma

I think some of it is beautiful. I always meant to bring a camera with me to make a book of all the really cool art I saw but I never got around to it.