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Edition #12, August 15, 2005
Photographer: Kevin Tomasic
Photo © 1984,2005 by Kevin Tomasic
My second job out of college was at Dravo Corporation in Pittsburgh, where I started working as an estimator in 1979. All was well until the collapse of the domestic (especially local) steel industry in the early 1980ís. Business dried up and on my birthday January 12,1982 I was laid off.
1982 was a rough year, so I joined lots of other local people on unemployment. Uncle Sam took care of me most of that year and I got to do a lot of railfanning on someone elseís dime. The big attraction for me was the Western Allegheny out of Kaylor, Pa. At least once a week a pair of Bessemer & Lake Erie F-units would haul coal to an interchange with the rest of the Bessemer at Queen Junction. I got pretty lucky at finding them. Multiple times that year I chased them and I got very familiar with the line. It was a wonderful experience to watch (and listen) as two wagons hauled 20 loads up out of the valley and over Route 68.
Alas, it couldnít continue and I finally got a job in January of 1983 with Sauer Industrial Contracting. After a little more than a year, my friends at Dravo called and asked if I wanted to come back and work for them at a big salary increase. Being that I was newly married, I said sure.
After about a week back at Dravo, I realized that it was the same screwed up place that had let me go 17 months before! Right about then, my brother-in-law called and said that Salem Furnace in Carnegie needed an estimator. I went out and interviewed for the job. We got to talking money and they could only match what Dravo was paying me. Since I had just gotten a raise to move to Dravo two weeks before, I jumped at the chance.
The next morning I gave Dravo my notice and they fired me on the spot! I called Salem and told them Iíd be there a week early, then I called my sweetie and told her we were taking a week of vacation.
Susie had long heard my stories of chasing the B&LE Fís through the beautiful Western Pa. countryside, so it didnít take much to convince her to join me on a chase of those orange and black beasts. We followed them from Kaylor through the rolling hills to Queen Junction and back under clear spring skies. As the sun got low in the west we parked at a lonely grade crossing and waited for the train. Slowly and quietly the lead motor poked around a corner and caught the sun-very fine indeed. It couldnít have been better-perfect sun, good tunes on the radio and a beautiful blonde beside me!
Kevin N. Tomasic
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Revised: 07/15/09 10:26:58 -0400