"Takin' Twenty with the Virginian Brethren"

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Sep 25 08:44:54 EDT 2008

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with ten of the
Brethren and Friends of the Virginian Railway. We signed two cards:
One was for Ben Handcock, VGN Yardmaster, whose wife passed away
recently and the other was for H. E. "Governor" Tyler, former VGN Clerk
who is recovering from recent surgery.

I showed the Brethren an October 1959 "Railway Age" article
retrieved from the N&W (and VGN) Archives on work day last. This 6-
page spread detailed the N&W-VGN merger and mention one of the top
reasons given for the coupling. This was the clearing of N&W, NYC and
C&O trackage-rights agreements which were contingent on approval. The
estimated savings from the deal was $12 million a year....

There was no response from the photo last week "VGN over SOU" that
was identified as being taken at Altavista and disputed by Raymond East.

I showed the Brethren a photo taken at Elona, PA of a Conrail
locomotive mover at the wheel turning shop. It consists of a GP-9
single truck with couplers and traction motors with a box containing
loco batteries and controls on top of it. This device is a mobile
version of the "jogging" system on NS locos that is used to move units
inside Diesel Shops without having to start up the diesel engine.
Jogging connects the starting batteries to one traction motor and the
regular controls are used to slowly move the engine. Hopefully house
air is applied first, so there is stopping capability. (I know of at
least one time this was forgotten and a GE was introduced to the
transfer table pit the hard way). This prompted Rufus Wingfield to
tell the Brethren a story about N. A. "Not" Thomas, a VGN yard engineer
at Roanoke who would be seen "truing" the brand new brake shoes after
they were applied to the passenger PA steam locomotives. Ruf said
that "Not" would run the PA's back and forth for about an hour on
the "in going" track, applying and releasing the brakes until the new
shoes were "quiet and smooth".

Photo: http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=251258

Landon and I told the Brethren about our trip last Saturday to
Cass Scenic Railway in Cass, WV. I showed them several photos taken of
the Shay locomotives. The one they liked the best was of the Shays
taking on water on a 5% grade heading up Bald Knob. Also they liked
the description of the logging operation at Cass. The red spruce was
cut and sent to Covingtion, VA and made into top grade paper for
several large magazines including "Ladies Home Journal".

Rufus told a story about yardmaster Earl Fisher who often dyed his
hair and when it rained, he would "leak". Ruf said that Earl always
carried a piece of white chalk in his pocket. Once Ruf "caught" him
writing "J. B. King Esq." on the side of a hopper. This famous
graffito was seen across the nation on rail cars and some think it was
started by a famous hobo. Ruf and Scotty were discussing the upcoming
election and Ruf said that he thinks he will "write in the names Penn
Faulkner and Richard Shelton, VGN section men who lived in a "shanty
house" near South Yard. He said that "these two could do as well as
those names on this years ballot".

Glen McLain, VGN clerk, faithfully brings to our sessions every
week several jokes that he has found. Most contain material not
suitable for mixed company and do not make it pass my censor. This one
did and the Brethren asked me to share it with you: Little Jason was
getting terrible grades. His parents decided to send him to a new
school with the hopes that things would improve. After trying several
public schools with no progress, they send him to a Catholic School.
The first day he came home and rushed to his room and did his
homework. This continued until report cards came and showed that he
had straight "A"s. When asked why he changed so much he
replied: "Well, when I walked in the first day and looked up and saw
that guy nailed to the plus sign, something told me they meant

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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