Safety First in the form of a Flagman

The picture above shows a flagman on duty. This is not just some rummy that the city fathers plopped on the street to keep him out of the gutter but a meaningful public servant assigned with ensuring the safe transit of citizens and commerce on the streets of his fair town. In some states it was the responsibility of state officials such as the Commisioner of Railroads to hire, outfit and maintain these guardians, in other localities it may have been a more local position but what ever the case may have been it is certain that in centers of population from small towns to big cities the Flagman would not have been an unusual site.

As much road and rail crossing traffic that was going on around Liberty Street in 1895 it seemed appropriate to me that there should be some kind of safety device in place and in lieu of a crossing gate this flagman looked like a good candidate and it would make a great one night project.

The Flagman Project

The flagman in the title photo was a well dressed fellow in a three piece suit with a fine watch fob in his vest pocket so the flagman for Liberty Street could be no less refined. Weston made a white metal figure # 1238 that they called "Man 1890's" which I decided to use as the basis for my flagman...especially since for some reason I possessed three of these.

The first thing I did was to cut the top hat down to something more in keeping with the period an while I was at it, I filed off the tails of his coat. The result was something not very unlike the coat in the title picture. The view below is a side by side comparison.

Note the figure on the left has had his hat shortened while the finished figure on the right has a shortened hat and coat. Compare to the photo at the top of the page.

The next order of business was the flag itself. For this I used a length of 2x2 Evergreen styrene painted a suitable brown and a tiny piece of paper about 1/4 inch square. The flag in the picture seems to be no less than 18 or 20 inches square so 1/4 inch in HO scale should be pretty close. I gave the paper flag a little curve to mimic the loose hanging caught-by-the-breeze look of a cloth flag and glued it to the stick

The color of the flag in the picture could have been white but it could have just as easily been yellow so I painted mine with reefer yellow. Then I put him to work on Liberty Street watching the rails where they crossed St.Louis Avenue. His partner was on duty on Ninth Street.