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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Apr 14 07:18:16 EDT 2011

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with seven of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. Raymond East reported the passing of
VGN Yard Brakeman Felix "Susie" Shrewsberry. He was know for being
extremely clean, after working a shift. "Susie" once bought a new car and
took some friends and relatives with him to Florida. Upon returning to
Roanoke with the ash trays full, "Susie" decided "to trade it in on a new
one", Wis Sowder said.

We discussed the 2010 Norfolk Southern Annual Report. Of course the
Brethren had to compare the VGN 1959 operating ration in the 50% range
compared to NS 2010 72% range. (NS 72 cents to make a dollar versus VGN 50
some). They liked the NS vision statement: "to be the safest, most
customer-focused, and successful transportation company in the world".

The Jewel from the Past is from March 24, 2005: "The subject of mechanical
forces 'flagging' work on motive power when they were really needed for
service was brought up. Walter Grigg remembered once a Federal Inspector
cited an engine for having too much slack between the locomotive and the
tender, and shop forces were suppose to make necessary repairs. When the
inspector found the repairs not made the next day, when the locomotive was
back in service, the mechanical man was transferred. It was reported that
some shops had certain personnel that would make 'pencil' repairs when
asked to do so."

Passed around was a photo of VGN AG #907 for the Brethren to identify the
location. All agreed that it is Norfolk. This photo will be added to the
N&W (and VGN) Historical Society Data-base at the next work session.
Raymond East recalled firing the #907 and commented "it was a privilege to
fire her". Also passed was a drawing H-1245 that our friend Eddie Mooneyham
showed me at the last work session. It is a Tidewater Railway drawing of
the use of a torpedo machine used with a crossing gate for use by trainmen
of a lumber train, who use the gate to protect lumber roads crossing the
then Tidewater. The torpedo machine was to be placed at least 2,000 feet
from a lumber road crossing. This drawing is dated March 16, 1906.

Also passed around was an email from our friend Bob Cohen from Maryland
showing damage to a track by a remote controlled engine that was left
powered up. There is a distinct grinding of the profile of a locomotive
wheel in 12 track locations in the photo. Glen McLain brought up the
demerit system that the VGN used when employee messed up like this. He once
got 30 demerits (100 got you dismissed) for not recognizing that an H. L.
Lawson box car was "just sitting" for about a week and not returned. Landon
Gregory said that an agent would get 10 for letting a mail sack get wet in
the rain. He said that one agent got 10 for posting the incoming arrival
time for a passenger train wrong, but when he spotted a flat wheel on a
passenger train and reported it, he got only 1 (one) merit for that... Ken
McLain told of a clerk named Flannigan, who did not get demerits, but a
"chewing out" by the Superintendent for using too much language when
reporting derailments. When the next one occurred, he just reported "off
again, on again, gone again, Flannigan".

Glen McLain told a story about a man who was taking his wife, who was
pregnant with twins, to the hospital when his car went out of control and
crashed. Upon regaining consciousness, he saw his brother, a relentless
world-class practical joker, sitting at his bed side. He asked his brother
how his wife was and he replied "Don't worry, everybody's fine and you have
a son and an a daughter. But the hospital was in a real hurry to get the
birth certificates filed and since both you and your wife were unconscious,
I named them for you." The brother said I named the little girl "Denise".
The husband, relieved said "That's a very pretty name! What did you come up
with for my son?" The brother replied, "Denephew."

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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