Sunday, August 3, 2014

Significant Others and railroading

Maple Valley, Washington. Saturday, December 26, 1961. Today, as I was digging through my collection of slides, I ran across three or four “bummers” – slides that won’t pass most Internet rail photo screeners. But that’s the beauty of being my own screener. I can run them!I was home in Seattle on Christmas leave from Hamilton AFB, and relished this opportunity to “chase trains!” My buddy El Purington and I had just finished shooting an eastbound Northern Pacific freight at Covington. From there is was a short jaunt north to connect with the Milwaukee Road, to catch an electric train at Maple Valley.

By the time we got there, darkness had fallen. The operator on duty, Bob Lillengreen, was a conversationalist beyond compare, who welcomed us with a hot cup of coffee and his latest stories.

Bob told us about a rail fan who had stopped by a few weeks past with his wife. He went on to say that as her husband went out on the platform to shoot an electric train, she lamented, “You know, I think he loves those trains more than he loves me!”


By and by the darkness was penetrated with a bright headlamp, and the mournful honk of a quartet of electrics, who had descended in the early evening from Snoqualmie Tunnel. (It was almost an irritation to me, that such magnificent machines had such ugly air horns!)


Without a tripod, I fired off a 1/15 second exposure as the engineer of the Box Cabs snagged his set of train orders. The lower set destined for the Conductor in his office on wheels – the caboose.

The point of this article is the wife’s concern about where she stood with respect to the husband’s priorities in life.



This recollection got me to reflect back upon my past relationships and railroading. One lady I was involved with was happy to go "railroading" with me because we made it an outing - packing a picnic lunch, hiking for photo ops and viewing other points of interest in additon to the railroad.

She shook up a southbound Espee pusher crew way up on the Willamette Pass. She didn’t realize the helper would be manned, and she took off her top after the head end had cleared, to bask topless in the hot afternoon sun. The appreciative pusher crew struck up a tattoo on the air horns as they passed us, waving wildly at her!


My ex-wife and I got married in a business car in Vancouver Washington, and we made one or two rail photo stops along the way to Cass West Virginia, the destination for our honeymoon in May, 1989.

Here’s Patti being helped aboard Shay #5 at Cass. We had a fantastic time there with the limited crowd at the 3-day weekend. She shot 5 rolls of film there in Cass, we made new friends, and so sharing and mixing with others seemed to be the secret.

We were invited to General Motors Open House later that year, and while it was the focus of the trip to Chicago, I buffered in a few extra days so that we had time to explore Chicago, as well as go to the open house.

So. Significant others and railroading. Moderation and inclusion were the keys for me.

Sadly, not only is the Milwaukee Road gone, but also Pattie, who passed away unexpectedly in 2007...

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