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Edition #97, March 1, 2009

Susie

Photographer: Kevin N. Tomasic

                                                                            Photo by Kevin N. Tomasic

Susie

Recently, I was talking with some railfan friends and the talk turned to wives’ and girlfriend’s attitudes towards our hobby. Almost everyone said that their significant other, at best, tolerated their hobby.

I guess I’m the exception to the rule. Early on, when I was dating my future wife Susie, she found my interest in trains, well, interesting. As the years rolled by and we went from dating to engagement to marriage, she grew very fond of my hobby. No, she didn’t pick up a camera or write down engine numbers, but she would eagerly join me in some crazy expedition to some remote locale to find an old Alco or Baldwin or some such thing. All I’d have to say was, ”Hey, I’m thinking about going to (insert locale here) to shoot (insert railroad here)” and she’d be in the front seat before I could pick up my camera bag! Hell, I didn’t even have to bribe her. She was satisfied with a big maple donut and a cup of coffee-me. I was satisfied to have good company and someone to laugh at my stale jokes. It also didn’t hurt that Susie had a sixth sense for things. Many a time she’d suggest some back road or trail when I was lost or frustrated and damned if most turned out to be good picks.

We spent many a day going after trains, especially Alcos. She didn’t like them much, particularly after a VIA FPA-4 unleashed a big, black, oily cloud on us at Bayview Junction, Ontario though we both appreciated a brace of LS&I RSD-12s yarding a train in the glow of an Upper Peninsula sunset. It was always great to have a true companion to pass the driving and waiting hours.

I also figure that it was kinda unique to have a girl who’s even run a train. In the picture above, Susie’s at the throttle of a Monongahela Railway GP-38 at the Federal No.2 mine. We’d driven down from our home in Pittsburgh just to get out of the house and found an MRY crew loading a coal train. Upon seeing her the crew invited us up into the cab and once Susie was aboard, asked her to try her hand at running the train. She was reluctant, but finally after some good-natured ribbing gave in and took a seat. The crew coached her a bit and she did very well earning a big thumbs up from them. It was a fine day for us.

Unfortunately, not all good things last and my blonde girl was taken from me in January 2009, leaving me only pictures and memories of all of those trips, all the laughs and the shared adventures.

I am haunted by memories.

Kevin N. Tomasic

 

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