"Taking Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Aug 27 09:05:23 EDT 2009

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with six of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. Most of the talk of the night was
about the funeral that many of the Brethren attended earlier in the day for
our beloved Tom "Cornbread" Victory. I had the honor of giving a eulogy for
Tom. We set up his regular table setting and added a tall globe VGN lantern
and a bowl of cornbread along with the photo book and notes about him from
the past 6 years of this "Takin' Twenty" Report that I used in the eulogy.
See a photo of this on this web site under "Memorial Photos of People". I
reported at Tom's funeral about the many responses of condolence from this
web site, some as far away as New Zealand and Ireland. Some who also
attended his viewing or funeral included Obediah Overstreet, Rufus Dean
Williams, Aubrey Wiley from Lynchburg, Greg Elam from Victoria, George and
Betty Harmon (Slick Inge's niece and nephew) from Princeton, Dwight and
Carolyn Vivas from Petersburg, J. D. Ferris, Tom Guilliams and many more.
"Cornbread" will always be remembered at every "Takin' Twenty".

Every year about this time, the Brethren are anxious to see what great
Virginian memories Aubrey Wiley includes in his next all-VGN calendar.
Every one of the Brethren present bought their 2010 version last night.
Rufus Wingfield immediately spotted a photo on the back page of a special
scaffold used by VGN linemen to maintain the overhead 11,000 volt lines for
the VGN Electric Locomotives. He also noted a "typo" under the photo, Salem
is MP V251. Raymond East recalled seeing this tower on a motor car working
in the Yard. This prompted me to remember in 2004 when Toby Hodson, VGN
Helper Lineman, was a regular at "Takin' Twenty". He shared with us the
same photo in the calendar and one with a close-up showing him and VGN
lineman Red Taylor working on top of the tower. I have posted the second
photo on this site under "Skip's Photos". As usual, Aubrey you have printed
a masterpiece and another winner in the 2010 version and every Virginian
fan should have one!

I showed the Brethren a clipping from Monday's "Roanoke Times" from 1909
(100 years ago): "Roanoke may expect a visit in a few days from the monster
Mallet engine, which has just been received by the Virginian Railroad from
the builders".

We talked about the movement of the "Lost engines of Roanoke" from the
Virginian Scrap Iron location. These three M2 steam engines have now been
distributed for cosmetic restoration. The #1151, built in Roanoke Shops has
been delivered to VMT; the #1134 is now at the 9th Street Siding of the
Roanoke Chapter NRHS where Will Harris, Goshen lumberman who is making the
moves, and his work force will sand blast and paint it for delivery to
Portsmouth, VA Historical Park; and the #1118 is now at 9th Street for the
Chapter's use. The Chapter will have an Open House on September 26 at the
9th Street Facilities and should also have the two C&W Baldwin switch
engines for all to see.

Landon Gregory just returned from a trip to the National Railway Historical
Society's Convention in Duluth, MN. His wife Sandra informed me that he has
a new nickname give to him by a "Yankee female bar tender". Landon and his
friends now call him "Muffin".

The funeral and seeing a lot of former VGN and N&W employees prompted a lot
of memories. Rufus recalled Benny Russo who came to Roanoke from Minnesota
with the circus, liked Roanoke, and got a job as a brakeman on the VGN. Ruf
said Benny was always working on old "VWs" and was asked once why he never
bought a new car. He answered "I like working on the old ones".

When I prepared for Tom Victory eulogy, I looked at the last six year's
"Takin' Twenty" Reports and "gleaned" some of the best "Cornbread" stories.
I showed them to Rev. Jay Fields, Tom's Minister, for review since some are
sort of "racy" and certain ally not politically correct. He insisted that
the following one be included:
11/10/05 "Cornbread" Victory told us about Benny Russo getting saved and
bringing back to the Yard Office a pile of tools that he had stolen.
Victory said that there was a "mad rush from the sinners to take possession
of the returned tools".

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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