Boxcar Willie

Born in a small railroad shack along side the KD railroad in 1931 Lecil Travis Martin was the son of a farm and section hand for the railroad in Sterratt, Texas. The railroad provided a small 3 room tool shed which served as a house for them. From the front porch to the first set of railroad tracks was about six feet. This is where Lecil spent his childhood playing on the rail cars in front of his home.

Lecil joined the United States Air Force in may of 1949 and became a pilot, he trained on the B-36 bomber. In 1952 the Korean war was in in full swing, Lecil was a second engineer and at this time was sent for final training in preparation for the conflict. Flight engineers were needed, he was then re-assigned to the magnificent B-29 super fortress.

Lincoln Nebraska is where he got the idea for Boxcar Willie. His chief boom operator at the time was a gentleman named Willie Wilson. On one afternoon Lecil was driving in Lincoln when he came upon a railroad crossing, he was the first in line as the crossing gates closed. As the train rolled by slowly he saw a man sitting inside an empty boxcar. This guy looked so much like Willie the boom operator he thought "there goes Willie". He imediately pulled off to the side of the road and wrote a song called "Boxcar Willie".

In 1962 while playing a club in Boise a girl came in an set in front of the band stand that caught his eye. In fact upon first sight he thought he just had to have her. He went over and introduced himself thinking she would already know who he was, since he had been on the radio for years. Well it turns out she wasn't really into country music and had never heard of him. He sat out to impress upon her who he was and did a good job because they fell in love, got married and had four children. Her name was Lloene, she turned out to be a very important part of Boxcar Willie. Not only was she supportive of his music she believed in him, and stood by him through some very hard times.

To this date he was still Marty Martin, and during a trip to California he decided to enter a talent contest as Boxcar Willie at a club called Sam's place. He borrowed a buddies car and drove to San Jose to sing in the talent contest. He won $150.00 for first place, that was the first time he had performed as Boxcar Willie.

All the while he was still in the Air Force he had been checked out on C-5's and was flying daily missions. He decided that he was doing his fellow crew members a dis-service. Because he had music on his mind and played nightly he could not give his full attention to the aircraft and crew. In 1976 he took a discharge from the Air Force and became Boxcar Willie full time.

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