"Taking Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Jun 25 09:11:54 EDT 2009

Happy Birthday card for Ernie Hubble, son of Virginian Mechanical
Supervisor "Red" Hubble. We also signed a 50th Anniversary Card for James
and Sue Economy. James, "J. T.", was a yard brakeman and conductor who
worked the "hoot owl" shift so long that Raymond East said "he still gets
up at 3 AM to 'take twenty'". James is a very colorful and outgoing
octogenarian who was decorated for his valor during the Korean War. He
actually brought a machine gun back home with him. When he called the FBI
to ask how he could donate the gun to VMI, they were at his door in "about
20 minutes".

From last week's report, ASSAMOOSICK is a swamp near Sebrell, VA on the
old VGN. The "Virginian Flower Pots" at Rufus Wingfield's house were
concrete boxes used to hold batteries for yard ground switch signal lights.
After the oil lamps were changed to electric, Ruf said that the switchmen
continued working the lights by checking and changing out the batteries, as
needed. Ruf wanted me to tell you that the plants around the bottom of the
boxes are "spider plants". Abe Burnett was quick to recognize the VGN
battery boxes and said they had sheet metal lids. Also asked was a question
from Greg Harrod concerning the water tender (canteen) behind VGN MCA 2-8-2
#484. Greg asked if a canteen was a standard feature on local freight runs
like 31 and 32 or just a standard feature with certain locomotives like the
484? The Brethren present did not know.

The ebay report this week includes: Map of VGN Railway $20.00; Slide of VGN
AG 2-6-6-6 #903 $22.39; 1918 VGN Rwy Book of Rules and Regulations $27.00;
"Virginian Rails" by Kurk Reisweber $35.00 and a desk top paperweight of a
VGN Blue Ridge AG 2-6-6-6 sold last week for $63.00 and either resold, or
another one just like it, went this week for $146.44.

The video shown last night was of a coal train passing the old Tom's Peanut
factory in Salem, VA on the old VGN side of NS. I also showed Raymond East,
who was absent last week, the Roanoke Chapter NRHS T-6 #42 "running over
the camera". Raymond "hogged" many of the Alco T-6s after the merger,
mostly in sets of three, on the hump at Shaffers Crossing. He said that
they were good engines but when the N&W replaced them with a six axle Alco
C-630 and former VGN Trainmaster slugs, it took longer to "get the train
moving, but they had really good brakes".

As for the question about when telegraph service stopped on the VGN, our
expert, VGN operator Landon Gregory, was getting his feet wet at Myrtle
Beach, so I will ask him next week.

I showed the Brethren a quote from Monday's "Roanoke Times" in the "50
years ago" section: "All opposition to the proposed merger of the Norfolk
and Western and Virginian railroads apparently has crumbled".

The Brethren talked about the passing this week of Albert Aker ("Double A")
Martin, VGN yard engineer. Ruf and Raymond remembered VGN Clerk J. K. "Doc"
Knox who came to Roanoke from Victoria. "Doc" was what was known as a blue
baby, one who survived heart problems and surgery right after birth, and
Glen McLain said that "sometimes 'Doc' was a 'blue man' also". Ruf recalled
D. P. Clark, an engineer who was so large that he had major difficulty
getting into the cab of some locomotives. Raymond said that "often I think
they used a crane to get him in that cab". Ruf and Raymond discussed Jessee
James, a clerk and former watchman at the VGN Freight Station. Raymond said
Jessee continued to work "well into his eighties and his first job came
over on the Mayflower".

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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