"Taking Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu May 28 07:05:23 EDT 2009

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with seven of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. We were joined by Jim Richards of
Bedford County, who told us about a friend of his, Arnold Lawrence, who
worked for the VGN at Whitethorne.

I passed around the May-June Norfolk Southern "Biz-NS" newsletter that told
us that in 2008, NS hauled 47,748 tons of pop corn. I told the Brethren
about NS receiving the Gold E. H. Harriman Award for the twentieth year in
a row. NS had the best 2008 safety record of the group A (15,000,000
employees hours or more per year) Rail Lines. CSX was second (Silver) and
UP third(Bronze). I asked the Brethren if they recalled the VGN competing
for this. Ruf said that he did not, but remembered after about three years
of throwing lump coal off hoppers in the Yard, near the Yard Office, for
their Warm Morning heater, the VGN Safety man put in a coal bunker for
"safety's sake". Ruf said that they got mostly "junk coal" and he still
threw off a few "good lumps".

Last Saturday I purchased a large photo at an estate sale of a VGN engineer
leaning out the cab window of an EL-C, looking for a signal. The Brethren
could not identify him for sure, but Ruf said that it could be R. G.
"Froggy" Williams. Another photo from Gordon Hamilton of VGN officials in
1944 was passed and only a couple could be identified. I will ask Mr.
Russell McDaniel if he can ID the rest.

Most of the talk of the night was about my mention of a great response
about cotton "waste" that was used for fire lighting and packing of journal
bearings on the VGN. I brought my "waste can" full of colorful waste for
"Show and Tell" and have posted a photo of it on this site. To see the
photo, go to "Skip's Photos" (#49), click on "New Photos" or go to:

Greg Howard's Grandfather, VGN Engineer W R. Boyd, used waste "to clean
shotguns, fishing reels and stubborn bug juice off his car". VGN crews on
the west end used water dampened wasted to breathe through, when going
through tunnels. Someone said that it is the best thing in the world to get
lint off jeans. Ruf said it is "great for getting 'begger lice' ('hitch
hikers') off your clothes after a walk through fields". VGN carpeck, Mr.
Brooks, would put his hand into freight car journal boxes to see if there
was enough oil laced waste in them. He was so "oily" that he was asked how
he got it off his hands for eating his lunch. He responded that he "put his
gloves ON when eating". Raymond East said there were barrels of oil about
every 100 feet in the yard for carpecks to use with the waste. He also said
that waste made good hen's nests for "layers". Glen McLain said that hobos
would take the oil soaked waste out of journal boxes to keep their fires
going in the winter. When waste was soaked in oil for lubrication, it was
called "dope". This waste with oil, "dope", was replaced with oil soaked
pads that looked like mop heads, and then only the journal boxes were oiled.

Of course all that "Waste" talk eventually led to talk of roller bearings
on freight cars, which was the demise for RR waste. Wis Sowder recalled
that when it snowed, you had go be extra cautious, in the Rail Yard because
the freight cars were so quiet when moving on roller bearings.

Then it was time to lighten it up a bit. I asked the Brethren a pressing
question: "What is RED and smells like BLUE paint?.........
red paint. Then Landon Gregory shared an actual Church Bulletin
announcement: "Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale next Saturday. It's a
good chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house.
Be sure to bring your husband".

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon

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