was wondering what I could write about and suddenly it hit me – the weirdest thing I’ve ever had happen while dispatching.
Some of you NMRA guys might remember Bruce Notman. He was an NMRA lifetime member and had operated on more layouts than I ever will. He went to many of the conventions. In later years, Bruce began to slow down a bit, and ended up content to run helpers on the LM&O.
I’ll also mentioned the amazing session we had at Tom Wilson’s layout. Tom “flirts” with TT&TO operations. Occasionally he hosts it. One guy (i.e. me) dispatches and usually there is a round robin assignment of guys to handle the station operator (OSing trains through, writing orders dictated by the dispatcher). Now, Bruce was a little tricky to understand – after years being his friend, I learned to speak “Bruce”. But one day he took over the SO position on Tom’s P&WV. The angels sang. The sun shown down. He was perfect at the job. Suddenly his radio calls were crystal. Tom and I still talk about that session – how amazing it was to really run a TT&TO session with short Bruce running about, reporting trains through. I remember on the car ride home, Bruce telling me that it was one of the best sessions he’d ever been at. I’d have to agree.
The worst (or funniest (or most dangerous)) was the session at a club member’s house. Now, this guy didn’t worry about safety at all. His layout was high, and his benches were unstable. There were steps all over the place and duckunders that, if you didn’t clear the secondary duckunder, you could take off the top of your head (I can attest to this). Some people wouldn’t come to sessions because it was so dangerous. As it was, the dispatcher sat at a table below the main layout, facing away (to preserve that fog-of-war thing we do so you don’t just look at the trains, you run off of reported positions).
Now, in his later years, Bruce was a bit of an unstable guy. He was also pear-shaped (I say that with a smile, since he was a good friend). So there I was,sitting at the low table and facing away from him. He was up one step in the main room, on a OSHA-nightmare bench, reaching up to work the high Asheville Yard. Just another night on the NS.
But remember that pear-shaped physique? This was the night, high on a step, and atop a wobbling bench, that Bruce’s shorts fell down around his ankles. Suddenly in an emergency setting, Bruce took a step, tangled in his own shorts, and went over backwards.
Now, a tragic version of this story would have had Bruce take the long fall onto the concrete floor.
The comical version of this was that he expended his kinetic energy by having his fall cushioned by the oblivious dispatcher.
I’m going to say this – everyone got a big laugh as we both lay in a tangle on the floor. Yes, funny, but someone could have had his neck or back broken. Yuck yuck. Eventually the two of us got untangled and stood, checking for anything broken. My back was stiff for days and Bruce and a bruise on his leg.
Thanks guys, for your concern.
And yes, possibly I’ll write another “On Sheet” about murderous layouts. Some of the things you guys come up with to cram track and industries in. Now we know where the Pinto came from.
Still, I miss Bruce. We was a good friend who passed away a few years ago. Further, his will granted our club $2000, which came in at a point where our former officers had drained our coffers. If it hadn’t been for him, I’m not sure Orlando N-Trak would have survived.
I’m looking forward to after I pass away (and cycling in Orlando, Florida will probably be the cause) when I join the Hereafter Model Railroad Club and Bruce shows me around. I’m sure he’ll be there to explain their waybills. And I figure he’ll be the helpers on my first run up to the summit of Mt. Olympus (said with a smile).