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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Dec 22 07:58:56 EST 2011

Last night, during the final sunset of autumn this year, I had the
pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with ten of the Brethren and Friends of the
Virginian Railway. One of the tables in our area held our Lionel
Christmas tree with lights, and presents, and a small steam locomotive
marked "VIRGINIAN" pulling three Pullman coaches, around it. Each of the
Brethren received an NS "We are deversified" black and white bandana,
and a Lions Club pin with the restored Virginian Station on it. A door
prize (Norfolk Southern Twentieth Anniversary Book) was given to Ronnie
Victory who pulled the Ghirardelli Chocolate square with the "Friends of
the Virginian Railway" logo on it. A great time of fellowship was had by

I asked the Brethren to share what the best Christmas present they got
as a lad was, with us. Ronnie Victory told of his first baseball glove;
Wis Sowder remembered his first bicycle; Glen McLain got a little red
wagon; Landon Gregory remembered a toy Caterpillar tractor given to him
by his cousin; Gibby Davis' favorite was a Lionel train set; Scotty's
was a gift brought to him by his brother who was in the Army in Texas: a
pair of "real" Cowboy boots. The most unusual was Felix Price's. When he
was five years old (1929), he got a Mickey Mouse watch from Santa...he
still has it, and has been offered over $1,000 for it!

We signed a Happy Birthday card for Yard Engineer W. E. Scott who turns
72 on Christmas Eve. "Scotty", an avid "linkster", told the Brethren his
favorite Christmas joke: Golfers who have foot problems have "athlete's
foot". What do astronauts have? Missletoe, of course!

The Jewel from the Past is from September 1, 2005: "Grover Austin and
Ken McLain remembered J. D. 'Uncle Johnnie' Beckner, 'straw-boss' of the
VGN Roanoke Freight Station. He 'supervised' the laborers or 'truckers'
in the loading and unloading of the less-than-carload freight at the
facility, near the south end of Jefferson Street Bridge. 'Uncle Johnnie'
always wore an apron made from a gunny sack. One day he got hungry, way
before 'takin 20', and opened up a gallon jar of peanut butter. The
story says he scooped a handful of Peter Pan and almost immediately got
choked. Most around him thought 'Uncle Johnnie' was kidding, until they
observed him at the water fountain, with water coming out as fast as it
was going in. He finally was able to get enough of the peanut butter
out, to get his breath, to everyone's relief".

Passed around was the ebay letter on Virginian Railway Company
stationary from Grover Austin to Julian Stanley Wise, founder of the
Roanoke Life Saving Crew, the first one in the nation. The letter says:
"This is one of the three red lanterns used by the Roanoke Life Saving
Crew when the crew was first organized. This lantern was given to me by
Julian Stanley Wise". I am trying to locate the lantern to go with this
letter for display in our VGN Station. I got a response about this
letter from our good friend Abe Burnett, who was Julian Wise's paper
boy, and knew him well.

The ebay report this time includes the following VGN items sold: Fake
cast amber VGN globe for $41.40; VGN Slides of the following: EL-2b at
Princeton in 1960 for $137.39; #132 EL-C pulling passengers during the
1957 Convention at Glyn Lyn bridge for $13.00; EL-2b #227 for $43.28;
and H24-66 #70 in Roanoke for $28.78.

Frank, this one's for you: Just before Christmas, an honest politician,
a kind lawyer, and Santa Claus were on an elevator in a very posh hotel.
Just before the doors open, all notice a fifty dollar bill lying on the
floor. Which one picked it up? Of course Santa did, because we all know
the other two don't exist!

The Brethren and I wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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