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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Apr 28 08:11:22 EDT 2011

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with seven of the
Brethren and Friends of the Virginian Railway. I told the Brethren about
the Ringling Brothers Circus Train traveling through Mullens on Tuesday.
We discussed if they ever remembered seeing the circus train while
working on the VGN. Most recalled the train coming into Roanoke on the
N&W. Bill Spencer said back in the '40s, his Dad had a small homemade
open bed trailer, and they would go down to the circus unloading area.
The circus crew would load it up with elephant "poop". "All summer, we
had the biggest tomatoes you ever saw!"

Passed around was the April-June N&W (and VGN) Historical Society
magazine "The Arrow". This issue has O. Winston Link's famous photo of a
gravity gasoline pump being used in Vesuvius, VA, on the cover. Most of
the issue is Part 5 of "The Electric N&W" about N&W's electric
locomotives. I spoke to Kevin EuDaly, publisher of the magazine, who
told me that a similar expose about Virginian Railway electrics with be
in future issues.

The Jewel from the Past is from March 31, 2005: "Grover Austin brought
in the last time-book for clerks in Roanoke before the merger, and a lot
of the Brethren saw their names and vacations, sick leave etc.. The
book, last record December 12, 1959, was kept by C. L. Ayers, Assistant
Agent. 'Ruf' Wingfield said that Ayers was 'so tight he could squeeze a
quarter so hard that he could get a 'bugger' out of George Washington's
nose'".(Note: I have this book and it will be displayed at the Virginian
Station in Roanoke after its restoration.)

In response to last week's report, Greg Harrod of Fredericksburg, VA
said that he "hunted deer in the area along the old C&O right-of-way
between Eagle Rock and Oriskany in the National Forest". He mentioned
one of the deer camp members, the late Bill Peters, grew up in that area
and said about 1945, a train of cattle cars loaded with deer from
Pennsylvania stopped and unloaded a car or two of those deer at various
points along the line, to restock the area. I asked the Brethren if they
ever saw anything other than cattle, sheep or hogs being hauled on the
VGN in cattle cars. Raymond East said that he remembered seeing several
cattle cars with "unusual critters in them".

Passed around was a photo of the N&W Lamberts Point Coal Pier in 1885
built behind the Lamberts Point Lighthouse. I asked the Brethren if they
remember seeing a similar lighthouse at Sewalls Point, and none did.

For "Show and Tell" I brought a Virginian Railway Company Payroll
Deduction Authorization card. These were used for employees to
participate in a Salary Savings Plan with the Franklin Life Insurance
Company as a member of the Virginian Railway Employees' Benefit
Association. This item verifies that the VGN DID have some extra
benefits for their employees. I also took my "N&W Parking Permit" on
lexan, that allowed me to park inside the Roanoke Shops. I asked the
Brethren if the VGN had anything similar for them, or their supervisors,
to have special parking spaces. Wis Sowder said he did not remember any
such system. "We parked 'first come, first served' anywhere we could get
away with it!"

Several of the Brethren were elsewhere last night. The "farthest away"
winner was Landon Gregory, who is in Hawaii with his wife Sondra and
probably eating exotic food. Speaking of food, I asked our waitress if
she could recommend something on the menu I never had eaten there
before. She did, a Philly cheese-steak sandwich, which was very good.
This prompted me to ask the Brethren if they had a food story. Raymond
East, who we have seen eat almost anything, said that he remembered one
VGN Brakeman who hated liver. He said that once as a lad, his mother
tried to get him to eat liver by telling him that she thought "Jesus and
the Deciples had liver at the Last Supper". The brakeman answered, "If I
eat that stuff, I may be able to ask him in person...."

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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