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UTU member retires after 50 years
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UTU member retires after 50 years
He's been working on the railroad, all the live-long ... 50 years, reports the Placerville, Calif., Mountain Democrat.

Davey Doc Wiser soon will say good-bye to a lifetime career on the Union Pacific Railroad that began exactly 50 years ago to the day today.

(Wiser is a member of Local 1570, Roseville, Calif.)

A career that began in Southern California ended up in West Sacramento, right across the street from Raley Field. It is there that Davey is bidding farewell to friends and co-workers, hanging up his striped bib overalls on July 30.

I know I'll be sad because I really like my job, said Davey, 68, during a recent interview at his typically western motif home in Camino where he and wife Sherry and grandson Preston, 5, enjoy a quiet but lively life together.

But all good things must come to an end, and I want to quit a winner. I won't miss the 110-mile round trip every day, and I'm looking forward to doing some fishing with Preston, said Davey as he placed a hand on the youngster's shoulder.

What Davey won't miss after July 30 is getting out of bed at 4 in the morning so he could beat the commuter traffic and get to the job after a daily stop at Carol's Restaurant on West Capitol Avenue in Sacramento. Then, according to Davey, he would arrive at work at 7:15 and start his paperwork so that he'd be ready to conduct his first train of the day at precisely 7:59 a.m. Precision timing ensuring that train schedules stay on track is crucial, Davey explained.

Conductors of the old days would be astounded to see Davey and his cohorts doing the same job with a remote control box mounted on a vest, with the engine he's conducting a mile away.

I have a partner, and there comes a point where I pitch the remote to him so he can take over, Davey said. Years ago I told someone that probably someday the trains would be run by remote control, and by golly it happened. We went remote in 2002, 2003, sometime in there. Before that, conductors and engineers would give hand- and radio signals.

The job, which for most of his years was with Southern Pacific (bought out by Union Pacific in 1996), also involves a lot of responsibility and rules, with Davey conversing with shippers and making sure the trains run on time.

It's gotten more professional and actually easier, not like when I hired on and worked 16-hour days, Davey said. His dad, David M. Wiser (Davey's middle name is Clark) also worked on the railroad, as did his granddad, Harry Robert Wiser.

My dad knew how tough the work was, and he didn't want me to get into it, Davey said. But I loved it.

I will always revere the good memories with the railroad. They are like family there.

Davey and Sherry were wed two-and-a-half years ago, on Jan. 18, 2008, by El Dorado County Recorder-Clerk William Schultz at Fresh Pond at precisely 3:10 p.m.

Romantic that I am, we go back to Fresh Pond each month at 3:10 p.m. and I have a salami sandwich with a Coors and Sherry has her meal and coffee, just like the day we got married, said Davey, wrapping an arm around his wife as the pair chatted with the Mountain Democrat.

Sherry, who has participated in western re-enactments with the Hangtown Marshals, was aware of who Davey Wiser was years before they started dating. After all, it's tough to miss Davey and his pards, running Davey's stagecoach in downtown Placerville every third Saturday of the month for free rides that thrill children and adults alike. But it wasn't until Davey pulled duty as a complimentary bartender at Lil' Mama D'Carlo's on Main Street in Placerville in 2002 that they met.

She drank primativo wine and every time she smiled I would give her a free drink, Davey recalled. When I'd see her flash those brown eyes at me, I knew I was a goner.

As for Sherry, well, I'd seen him around when I brought the kids to ride the Wagon Train (another of Davey's famous undertakings) and I kind of thought he was an old man, said Sherry, flashing the browns at her smiling husband. But then I saw his beautiful blue, sparkling eyes and fell for him.

I give all my thanks to the Lord for having sent Sherry to me, said Davey, laying a smooch onto his bride's smiling lips.

Once he retires, will Sherry, who is a homemaker, find he's underfoot too much?

I've already ordered a case of Excedrin, Davey jumped in, and I'm sure Sherry has a healthy honey-do list waiting for me.

I'm going to teach him the pleasures of a simple, peaceful life, Sherry answered. He does not like change of any kind, so I'll find things for him to fix, things to do.

Sherry has put her touch on the rustic, quaint home that contains saddles, tack and western art throughout every room. The home to which her new husband carried her over the threshold is beautifully accented outside with roses, daisies and other lovely flowers studding the landscape, making even Davey's trademark old faded-red 1977 Chevy Cheyenne look nice, parked and gathering a thick coat of dust in a corner of the yard. Davey drove that truck all over El Dorado County for years, and old-timers still associate the rig with the indomitable Davey.

Davey led his visitors out to see his well-known pair of horses, the bay Beetle Bailey and the black beauty, Jet. As young Preston walked along, the boy was asked whether he would like to be a cowboy someday like Grandpa Davey.

I'm already a little cowboy, said Preston, helping his grandma take control of Beetle's lead rope.

Davey also has a 46-year-old son, John, who lives in Georgia.

No, of course not. Davey Wiser has never been one to seek praise or adulation for all the thousands of hours he has given the community during the more than 30 years he has lived here. In addition to participating in the public-favorite Highway 50 Wagon Train for 33 consecutive years, he also has ridden in the annual Pony Express re-ride for 27 years and is a fan favorite during the annual John M. Studebaker Wheelbarrow Races during the El Dorado County Fair. He also has been a beloved participant in the Sonora Parade in Tuolumne County for 33 years.

The man gives his all to his community, as several friends attest:

A few years back, in 1996, it was my wife Kathy and my 25th anniversary, recalled friend Bruce Teie, 61, of Placerville. I didn't know Davey yet, but I ran into him at the fairgrounds, something to do with the Wagon Train, and I told him he was my wife's idol. I told him we were going to recreate our wedding vows and I asked him if he could think of something special.

That's all that needed to be said.

Much to my amazement, he brought his horse and carriage out and it was a complete surprise to my wife, Bruce said. We had a mock wedding at a saloon at our ranch, which we call 'Jawbone,' with about 80 people showing up, and after it was over we hopped on the carriage and drove off into the sunset.

We've been great friends ever since.

Bruce, who described Davey Wiser as a one-man show in every way, added that he's hopeful that now that Davey is retiring from the railroad, he'll have even more time to give of himself to the community.

Larry Hull, a friend of Davey's for more than 30 years, also looks forward to his pal having more time to do the things the pair has grown to love together.

I met Davey when I was president of the Pony Express (Association) and he was president of the Wagon Train, said Hull, 69, of Placerville, who has lived here for 35 years. We started strategizing together and before you knew it, we were close friends.

Hull joined Davey's myriad friends in riding shotgun on Davey's stagecoach in downtown Placerville, and Hull also would maintain traffic control for the stage while on horseback, leading the way through Old Hangtown.

It would be hard to explain Doc Wiser to someone who doesn't understand cowboys and things of the past, Hull continued. He's got old-fashioned ideas and definitely is into the Old West, and even though I sometimes dress up in Old West style, I don't take it as far as Davey.

Davey literally lives the part. He is a true gentleman cowboy.

Deanna Fausel, co-owner of Placerville Hardware on Main Street in Placerville, couldn't agree more.

What can you say about a guy who wears a boutonniere, a crisp mustache and is smiling all the time, said Fausel, whose family has owned the world-renowned hardware store for 54 years. He's just so happy all the time, and he's brought that spirit into town along with so much history with his stagecoach and all the crew that volunteers and supports him.

He brings the Wild West feel to the town, for tourists and locals alike. The tourists love it, and the kids are thinking they're in Disneyland or Knott's Berry Farm.

Fausel, 54, said it is Davey's personality and drive that attracts others, including the hardworking gang that helps control traffic and organize the monthly stagecoach rides downtown.

It's a lot of work, but Davey has such great rapport with them and a magnetic personality that they want to volunteer for the torture right along with him, said Fausel, laughing.

Although today is the official anniversary of Davey's first day on the job, his last day will be July 30.

Put down the train schedule, Davey Clark Wiser, and pick up your Thermos. It's quitting time, sir.

(This item appeared in the Mountain Democrat July 15, 2010.)

August 9, 2010


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