Senior Citizens

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Sun Jul 17 21:52:20 EDT 2005

It certainly was enlightening to be told by some guy born in 1962 that a
person such as myself, born in 1922, is a "crotchety old goat who doesn't
know what it is like to have a full life with plenty to do." Whether the
knows it or not, my generation was a hell of a lot more inovative in how to
entertain ourselves than these kids today will ever be. The word today is
"Instant Gratification", and nothing less. Kids today have an attention span
of about five minutes. In my day as a railfan, we had to have the patience
of Job. We hung around a railroad employee until we won over his
confidence that we were serious and responsible railfans, and the rewards
for such patience could be staggering. Ifound myself doing things from
handing up train orders to routing traffic through interlocking plants, to
flagging traffic at street crossings for a crossing watchman. I thought
nothing of waiting trackside 3 or 4 hours until traintime to see a steam
locomotive cracking exhausts with a tonnage train, and getting that friendly
wave from a crew member on both ends of the train. At other times, we
had movies with our favorite cowboy stars. And there was radio which
required that you use your own imagination when listening to "Buck
Rogers In The 25th Century", "little Orphan Annie", Henry Aldrich",
and Amos 'n Andy." There was always a swimming hole where we went
"Skinny Dipping" on a Summer day. I belonged to a Boy Scout troop and
took part in all their activities such as camping, hiking, etc. Our families
were together at meal times, and during the evenings, and not scattered to
the four winds. On school nights we were home doing homework, and
not out in a car tanked up beer driving 75 MPH on a 45 MPH road. We
had respect for girls, and didn't have the Bill Clinton legacy to try out on
every skirt we met. Having been involved with railroads since the 1930's,
it has been a source of satisfaction to me to have several younger fellows
ask me for details about how we used to do it in the old days. They are
the real railfans, and not these clowns who try to see how many look-alike
photos they can snap with a digital camera and cram down our throats on
various websites. Either that or ( yawn ) the complete text of some
meaningless hearing before the Surface Transportation Board about a
railroad abandoning .05 tenths of a mile of weed covered track in some
place nobody ever heard of, or that old stand-by of a train hitting either a
pedestrian or an automobile at a grade crossing. Just as some people
have favorite old movies and movie stars, all aspects of steam railroading
have been preserved on video tape for all time. A child is going to be
attracted to railroads by what he sees in real life prototype, and not
attending an NMRA meeting. Any outfit that still considers horn-hook
couplers as official, doesn't have much going for it. I am not on the
outside looking in at model railroading either. I have a 26 X 18 foot HO
layout in
my basement that would blow your mind. For example, a coal train on
my layout would consist of about 65 loaded coal hoppers with two units
on the point and two mid-train slaves along with a radio car a la Southern
Railway. And the coal is loose in the hoppers, and not glued in. That
tonnage will easily climb the ruling mainline grade of 2.5%. I have three
scale miles of doubletrack mainline with minimum 30 degree radius
curves. The single track branchline is also three scale miles and mostly
flat. I am up-to-date with all sorts of traffic from a 14 car stainless
passenger train to stack trains and triple Crown service. My mainline
is old style right track current of traffic much like the old ACL and the
southern Railway. Rest assured these old "crotchety grayheads" still
know how to have a good time. Bill Sellers, Norfolk Southern Railway
( Ret. )

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