"Takin' Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren by Skip Salmon

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Nov 24 08:12:14 EST 2011

Last night, on the eve of this year's Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure of
"Takin' Twenty" with seven of the Brethren and Friends of the Virginian
Railway. We talked about some of the things we are thankful for, and all
agreed that at our age, just being there last night, was a thankful event.
The conversation went to the Virginia-Virginia Tech football game on this
Saturday. It is being hyped like the old days, when every Thanksgiving Day,
Virginia Tech (VPI) and Virginia Military Institute (VMI) played before a
packed crowd at the old Victory Stadium (now a vacant lot) across from the
VGN Roundhouse in Roanoke. Speaking of football, I asked the Brethren a
question that would probably win someone a bet at a family gathering today.
How wide is the standard football field? Until yesterday, I thought it is
50 yards (150'). The correct measurement is 160 feet...

Passed around was the "Classic Trains" Special Edition number 10. This one
is about "Fantastic 4-8-4 Locomotives". The VGN chose not to use this
"fast, powerful, versatile giant from the zenith of steam". However this
magazine does justice to the N&W 4-8-4s including a photo of Class J #613,
the final one built in North America. The "J" Class N&W streamliners are
featured throughout this issue including a great shot on page 67 of Santa
on the nose of #607, and on page 85 of the #611 in 1993, after she
"stalled" on Saluda, NC grade. Worth reading is an article on page 58 "Man
in a Hurry" about when #611 broke the century mark of 100 MPH on a 1959 fan
trip...or did she?

Frank Bongiovanni, my favorite Cleveland attorney,(probably one of the only
lawyers in America who knows what the terms G3-X, Buckeye trucks, and
triplex mean) challenged me to find a lawyer joke he had never read. Our
joke man, Glen McLain, VGN Chief Clerk at Sewells Point, gave me one that I
passed on to Frank with this reply: "first lawyer joke this year I haven't
already heard". Can't print it here...

For "Show and Tell" I took a cast aluminum oval "N&W RY CO Compressor
No.___", bought at my favorite Antique Shoppe last Saturday. It's a real
bear. Speaking of bears, I met former VGN Surveyor, Dewey Houck, at the
grocery store yesterday. Dewey has property beside the Appalachian Trail
near Dragon's Tooth in Roanoke County, near Catawba, VA. He was coming
toward Roanoke from his property recently and hit a black bear. "It tasted
real good with boiled potatoes and snow peas"...

I told the Brethren about Lloyd Lewis' newest book "West Virginia Railroads
Vol. 4-The Virginian Railway". They are now for sale, and highly
recommended as a great Christmas gift for anyone in the Virginian Nation.
TLC Publishing in Forest, VA has them (434 385 4076) and the N&W (and VGN)
Historical Society sells them on their web site. The hardback book has 128
pages, 175 photos, maps, tables and drawings.

The Jewel from the Past is from August 4, 2005: (Note: Jerry West's new
book "West by West" is currently on the best seller lists) "'Slick' Inge
told a story about Will Akers, Roadmaster on the VGN, who had a son, Willy
Akers, Jr. Willy Jr. played high school sports in Cabin Creek, WV with the
famous NBA Star, Jerry West (AKA 'Zeke from Cabin Creek'). Seems that West
and Akers made a pact that each would be the other's best man at their
wedding. When Willy got married, Jerry was well into his NBA career and
playing almost every day, far from Kanawha County, West Virginia. Willy's
Dad prepared to be the best man, but phoned Jerry in Los Angeles to tell
him of the wedding. When the wedding started, to everyone's surprise, Jerry
West appeared at the back of the Church and proceeded to BE the BEST MAN!"

Yesterday at the local Staples Office Supply I took my items to my favorite
check-out clerk, Mr. Patel from India. We exchanged "Happy Thanksgivings"
and I asked him if he liked turkey. He responded in his broken English "No
I'm vegetarian". I responded, "I like vegetables, especially with deer meat"...

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Skip Salmon


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