Merry Christmas Everyone!

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Merry Christmas Everyone!
Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 11:10 AM

As I usually do I'm sending out my annual "Christmas Card" to all on the Forum.  I think you'll like this one, it's "Blackmore's Night" doing a lovely version of the song "Christmas Eve."

Hopefully it'll take everyone's mind off the usual "doom n' gloom" we indulge in here!

And a Merry Christmas to all of you!

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Posted by diningcar on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 11:23 AM

Very nice, thanks and Merry Christmas to all at this site.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 11:44 AM

It's that time of the year again, hot chocolate and a NON-Baldwin Berk and the hopeful sound of bells...

... bells ...

... turn out the lights, and let's remember bells again.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 11:51 AM

Never too old to have a happy childhood!


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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 12:07 PM

I try to post this every year around this time, a bit of a tribute to our departed friend Ed Blysard.  If you've read it before, you know to get out the tissues.  If you've never read it, get out the tissues. 


Got a good reality check today.

Everyone has a bad day once in a while, you know, those days where you could care less about any and everything, catch a good case of the blues, and end up feeling really sorry for yourself?

Had one of those yesterday, and it looked like a repeat for today.

The yard is jammed to the gills with cars, no place to switch them to, more work than we could ever get done, knee deep in gators...that along with some personal issues keeping me down in the dumps, having a real good pity party for myself....

There is a young man, 16 now, who shows up just about every day it isn't raining...he sits across from our yard entrance watching the action on the old SP line, and watching us switch.

The thing is, he sits in a wheelchair.

His Dad brings him up there in the afternoon, around noonish, and they sit, him in his chair, Dad in the van he has, watching, taking the occasional photo, waving at the crews as they go by.

I have never really talked to either one of them, other than giving them a few cans of water during a scorching summer day, and sneaking a gimmie cap out to the kid once...didn't really know his story, other than he shows up all the time, and a few of the other regular fans seem to enjoy sitting with him.

Well, we were sitting there on the lead, blocked by another inbound, while we were trying to go grab another switch cut from the receiving yard...just piddling away time really, when I noticed the van drive up.

Dad unloads the kid; they have one of those hydraulic lifts in the side door.

He gets the boy all covered up with a blanket, and they are taking in all the sights.

The boy keeps looking over at us, we are literally just across the street from them, when I get one of those ideas that usually end up with me having to try to explain to someone higher up why and what I was thinking and doing.

I talk with my helper a minute, and he thinks it is a great idea also, so we get down, trot across the street, and ask the kid if he wants to see the locomotive up close....Don't think I would have gotten a better response if I had given him the lottery numbers for tonight!

We roll him across the street, Dad grabs the handles, and my helper and I get the wheels, and we carry the chair over the ballast to the side of our motor.

This young man is just ecstatic, starts asking a million questions, we are kinda tickled, my helper and engineer begin to answer his questions, when they can get a word in edgewise.

I was busy watching Dad...the look on his face was worth any trouble we might get into...I led him away from the locomotive, far enough where normal conversation can be had lower than at a shout.

I ask a few questions of my own, and it turns out the kid was riding his brand-new bike on his 12th birthday when a drunk driver clipped him...destroyed the spinal cord in his lower back; he is paralyzed from the waist down.

His Dad is beginning to cry a little now, seems the boy wanted to grow up and be an engineer, has always been a train nut, since childhood...Dad swears the kid can hear the trains miles away, you get the idea.

Dad and son have a model railroad and do the railfan bit together every chance they get.

Dad had tried to buy tickets for the UP 844, but just couldn't afford to get the tickets or the time to drive out to where it was.

He is really getting carried away thanking me for letting his son this close to a real locomotive, when my engineer, Booger, comes around the end of the motor, and points over to the dirt access road.

Great! Our daylight trainmaster is standing there, looking at me with that look which usually means I have to think faster than I normally do.

So I wander over, he gives me the third degree, then the speech about liability, injury, getting sued, blah blah blah...the whole time, I am thinking what a Scrooge he is, all the kid is doing is asking questions, and touching the lower handrail and steps....

Suddenly, I realize the trainmaster has quit talking, maybe a long while ago in fact, because he is looking at me like I am supposed to be giving him either an answer to a question or a load of BS, or both.

Now, my mouth and my brain sometimes run at different speeds, the mouth is usually faster of the two, and I usually regret has been a crap day, my feet hurt, its really cold outside....

Before I even think it through, I just looked at him and said, "Dude, what a Scrooge you are!  That kid will never get a chance like this again, ever...all he wants to do is look and ask questions...he should be glad he isn't one of your kids!"...

I didn't wait for a reply, but just went back to Dad, walked him over to the kid, and was about to tell them the party was over when the trainmaster came walking up to us.

I was sure I had managed to get myself and my crew pulled out of service, just sure of it...and right before Christmas, to boot.

The young man, who had no idea who this guy was, or what he was going to do, stuck out his hand and introduced himself, grinning from ear to ear...the trainmaster had no real choice but to shake with the kid...he then tapped me on the arm, and motioned for me to follow him...we go about 10 or 15 feet away, when the trainmaster turned around, and had the oddest look on his face I had ever seen.

By now the inbound had cleared us up, so the noise level had dropped a lot, and I swear, the guy sounded like he was about to cry...he pointed towards the receiving yard, and said "You can get to your switch cut now....of course, you might want to run your helper down an empty track to the other end to check for brakes and see if there is a Fred on the end."

Now this make little sense, as the car department bleeds off these cuts, and removes the EOTs before we ever get a list on the stuff...I look at him, he nods towards the kid, then cuts his eyes up to the locomotive way...he is telling me to take the kid for a ride, just no way..."I will be downtown for a while, maybe an hour or so, if you need anything" he says, then looks at the kid again, and looks me straight in the eyes, "Be careful, Ok?"...spins around, walks over to his truck and leaves.

So when he is out of sight, I walk back, grab my engineer, clue him in and check to make sure he is good with it...he thinks it is a great idea...we ask Dad if they wouldn't mind going for a ride...I swear the kid looked like he was about to faint...Dad was a little stunned...said he didn't know how we would get the boy up there...

Booger is not the brightest light in the harbor, but he is one big son of a gun, he just reached down, grabbed the kid, flipped him over his shoulder, and walked up the steps, problem solved.

Now, I thought we would just give them a ride, but when we got into the cab, Booger had the kid in the engineer's seat, explaining what the controls did...I told him let's get over there before anyone notices...he runs standing up behind the kid, who is wild-eyed at all of this.

We get in the track, pretty much hidden from the yard by the cut of cars, and Booger stops the motor....steps away from behind the kid, and tells him which handle to move, to press down on the independent, move the throttle over here....and we take off, with the kid running the motor.

We have close to 120 cars' worth of running room, so the kid gets to run back and forth a pretty good distance...we get down and start to give him hand signals, while Booger stand behind him, telling him what to do...pretty much we screw off for a good 30 minutes, but time well spent...we run Dad back to his van, tell him to meet us at the other end of the yard, let the kid notch it out a few more times, and end up at the north end, where there is a whole lot of nothing but trees and the access road...Dad shows up with the van, we get the wheelchair off the front porch, Booger does his human bench press routine again, and we gotta get back to work before the yardmaster figures out we are doing not a whole lot...

The young man looks like he is about to explode he is so happy, Dad is crying a little, my helper is suddenly real interested in the rocks around his feet, I am getting a little leaky too...the kid shakes hands all the way around, they get loaded up, and as they are pulling away, the kid yells out the window, "Thanks again, and you guys have a great Christmas"...

So we skipped beans to make up the time, and when we tied up, I ran up to the tower to talk to the yardmaster, as I was kinda curious as to why the trainmaster did what he did...turns out that, yup, you can guess, his 8-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver.

Boy, do I owe someone an apology or what...

So I am driving home, feeling more like an idiot than usual, half of me thinking what I need to say to the trainmaster next time I see him, and half of me feeling pretty good about what we did for the kid, when it hits me...this kid will never get to do the things I take for granted every day...he most likely will never see the inside of a locomotive again, never line a switch, or tie a hand brake...never get to dance with his girlfriend, go surfing or ride a horse...and our trainmaster will never get to go watch trains or build a model with his son, or show him how to run a locomotive.

It smacked me so hard I had to pull over and sit a minute, smoke a smoke and think about it all.

So you know what?

Maybe nothing in my life is really wrong after all, I mean all my kids are healthy, my wife loves me, I am all in one piece, mostly, and in comparison...

Hey, ya know what?...I ain't got no problems, none at all...

I received a gift from the young man also...doing this for him taught me something else...

I had forgotten how to "play" was as much fun for us as anything we have done in a while.

And I thought about something late last night...what his Dad does for a living that allows him to spend as much time with his son as he does?

Whatever it is, it must be worth the sacrifice, because it allows him to do something a lot of us never do...spend a lot of time with his kid, and watch--really watch--him grow up.

Now, how cool is that?

I know the Dad works with his hands, you could see the callus, and every time I see him, he is always dressed in khakis or jeans and work shoes.

His watch is a Timex, his van is an old 70-something Dodge...but his kid was dressed in the "latest" cool clothes, the Nikes on his feet were the real deal, the kid's camera was a Canon Rebel, so I could see where Dad spends his money...

Anyway, when I got home last night, and after I typed all that...I took my kids and we went and played...we walked down to the BN main and watched a few trains, took a stroll through the woods near here, chased a wild rabbit, (rabbits win every time) then sat out in the front yard and watched stars, talking about all kind of stuff.

See, I realized that maybe the young boy's Dad is the real hero here...after all, it can't be easy.

But he is the one getting the reward; so to speak...the looks between him and his son made me realize how much I wish I had taken the time to really talk to my Dad, and how much I miss him.

It also made me realize how much the boy and his Dad love each could see that no matter what happens, they will always be there for each other, you could see the boy trusted him completely.

I get it now...buying the new plasma TV for the house, or getting the next Playstation hasn't made me a "good" parent anywhere near as much as chasing a rabbit with a 7 and 13 year old did....Now I know things about my kids, and how they think, what they really want, what scares them and what doesn't.

Things I thought I knew didn't really matter, what I thought they wanted, and what they really wanted turned out to be different things after all.

Ya know what, there is a meteor shower due here on the 12th...think a road trip to the beach with the kids sounds like a great idea.

So the kid got a cab ride and a quick locomotive lesson, but I think I am the one who got the real gift...


Turns out there are a lot of closet modelers on the railroads, and the young man and his Dad are currently being asked to join a local club, which has as one of its founding members the former president of the local chapter of the NHRS...the boy should be in hog heaven...they are the folks who provide the car attendants and such when UP runs the specials down here.

As an addendum to the story, I went to apologize to the TM...he wouldn't let me...said I didn't know, so no apology needed,

He told me about his getting the kid in touch with the club, then handed me an envelope.

Said the young man had asked him to give it to me.

Inside was a simple plain paper hand written note, thanking my crew for the "fantastic afternoon" he and his Dad had.

Imagine that, some new school kids still have old school manners!

Even better, I have an artifact to show my kids when they get all down and blue.



I don't normally preach, and I lost my soap box a long time ago, but just this once...


Do yourself, and your family a big favor this Christmas, and New Year's Eve...if you go out to party, and you drink...take a designated driver, or call a cab if you have even just a little more than normal...'cause trust me, you really don't have any problems, none at all. 

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 12:09 PM


Someone once sent me a copy of the famous TurboTrain collision picture that had been doctored to have a sleigh and a shower of presents being what was hit...  Merry Christmas!!!
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Posted by NKP guy on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 12:34 PM




I love it this!  (But I still miss your surfing cat!)

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Posted by samfp1943 on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 1:14 PM

Merry Christmas, To ALL !

Wishing  Seasons Greetings to all.

...Stay Warm, Travel Safely.  




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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, December 24, 2022 9:43 PM

I am thankful that this part of Michigan avoided the worst of the big blizzard, and my house still has light and heat.  Makes one wonder what it might have been like to be born in a stable.  Merry Christmas.

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, December 24, 2022 9:53 PM

One of my favorites. Christmas on the Century in a Creek obs. No wonder the girl is happy!

 NYC_Century_xmas_lo by Edmund, on Flickr

Happy Holidays to all — Ed

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, December 24, 2022 10:10 PM

Never too old to have a happy childhood!


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Posted by 54light15 on Saturday, December 24, 2022 10:15 PM

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah or whatever as the case may be. 

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Sunday, December 25, 2022 1:10 AM

Merry Christmas!

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Posted by greyhounds on Sunday, December 25, 2022 2:38 AM

Merry Christmas to all.

"By many measures, the U.S. freight rail system is the safest, most efficient and cost effective in the world." - Federal Railroad Administration, October, 2009. I'm just your average, everyday, uncivilized howling "anti-government" critic of mass government expenditures for "High Speed Rail" in the US. And I'm gosh darn proud of that.
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Posted by Lab on Sunday, December 25, 2022 7:10 AM

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night 

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Posted by tree68 on Sunday, December 25, 2022 8:44 AM

Have a great day, and go easy on the vittles, whatever they may be...

Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, December 25, 2022 5:52 PM

Love those classic old NYC and B&O ads gents!  Thanks!  

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