o one can blame me – after Bruce had a critical medical attack in my car on the way to a train session, well, I really wasn’t in the mood for operations at the club. But I thought about it and knew that he’d kick my ass if I cancelled a session because of him. So I sent out a reminder and showed up.
I can’t say why but as I walked in I suddenly knew what I wanted to run – the helper set he always worked up the Harris Glen westbound ascent. The engines were right where he left them at the end of the last session, up in the pocket off Hidden Spur. Grabbed my controller, grabbed the engine and got ready to boost heavy movements west.
It was bittersweet, the wait. Two couples showed up – both had talked to Bruce recently and had been invited out to this very session (that’s the sort of guy he was). I had to explain what happened – they were so sorry. But the show must go on, the clock must go hot and the trains started to roll.
Turns out one of our guests brought his own engines and consist so I told him to set up in Calypso and worked it so he’d meet me in Lehigh for the ascent. With him on the way, I climbed into Bruce’s LM&O 3001 and fired them up. I was hoping they didn’t need wheel cleaning or other servicing but they were fine, gliding down the hill so nicely. Met up with the Tupelo & Logan lease units idling on at Lehigh with their rusty rolling stock behind them. Coupled up and worked out the plan with engineer Larry for the ascent. Larry, it turns out, is a true railroader, in real life and model form. So with everyone pulling together, we rolled up to Harris as neat as you please, just taking in the scenery and chatting. Dropped the helpers back in the pocket and cab-hopped with Larry all the way through to Cincinnati, just to pilot him over the road.
Of course, I’d like to say that the rest of the run was perfect – we just had dual track to run – but it was not to be. Found 202 running wrong main through Pittsburgh and had to go into emergency. Got dispatcher permission to work around him. But as soon as we took our rightful main, headlights again, this time from a pensy coal drag the dispatcher had sent against us. What a night.
But it was crazy fun with all the guests (husbands and wives) all running trains, with everything stacking and every phone in use.
But the helper run was the best. I’m sure Bruce would have wanted it that way.