50th Anniversary Reflections

Blue Ridge NRHS

Garland Harper

BRC recollections.  -  G. R. Harper

I have several fond memories of Chapter activities.  I regret I have not been able to participate in as many events as I would like due to my abnormal work schedule, i.e., nights and weekends.  A few stand out, however.  

I remember getting impaled in the ankle by a coat hanger while grilling hotdogs for Rail Day at the Greenstone building on Enterprise Drive.  I thought the bleeding would never stop!  I remember working on a steam trip in cooperation with the Roanoke Chapter, I believe, originating out of Lynchburg which went to Walton on the other side of Roanoke, and the dozens and dozens of doughnuts that Rick Johnson had ordered for the trip.  I remember fondly our two trips to Richmond with escort Kurt Reisweber and the impromptu tour of the Maplewood landfill near Amelia, in particular.

However, the greatest recollection I have is being completely chagrined by the performance of the trains the day we rode Amtrak to Washington and back in March, 2003.  I had convinced the Chapter to take advantage of a great deal Amtrak was offering on fares during the slow season that year.  However, on the day of the trip, March 29, the northbound Crescent was four hours late due to striking a car somewhere in North Carolina.  The southbound Crescent had no diner, it having been shopped in New York earlier.  Oh well.  I think we managed to have a good time, nevertheless.

I have enjoyed, and still do today, the visits to the station of my fellow Chapter members and others to watch Amtrak #19 arrive.  Usually we would be treated to the passage of other NS trains while we waited.  I especially enjoyed the company of those members who learned that it WAS NOT necessary to keep me company all night long!

I recall with a big mental smile how Marshall “Pothole” Griffin would come down nearly every Sunday night to watch #19 and share a cup of coffee.  He would often bring a snack to share.  Visitors on Sundays numbered far fewer than on Saturdays.  Being retired “Pothole” had no schedule to keep on Mondays.  In fact, it was on one of his Sunday- night jaunts to the station that he acquired the nickname, “Pothole”, when he explained to the lady cop that pulled him over for weaving in traffic, “Oh no, ma’am,  I am not drunk.  I’m trying to avoid the potholes in the street.”