Working a double shift – two sessions in two days.
Doing the Altamonte Local, pushing cars into a tight corner, trying to get everything sorted in a minimum number of moves. While working a food distributor, I found a reefer that I had to shift over to the icing deck. With a throttle in one hand, cards in the other, and my mind three moves ahead, it suddenly struck me that I was pushing cars into my late father’s industry. This structure from his old layout was now on Jim T’s pike.
On his old New River Gorge route, he’d built the Union Ice Company, located on a small spur on the far side of Clifton Forge. I remember that part of his one-man sequential ops completely – the reefer train would come in, hold just outside of the tunnel. The head-end (with three cars) would run up the reverse loop, tug three loaded reefers out, and put the three from its train in. Never mind that railroads really don’t partially ice on the fly, it’s just how Dad wanted to do it back in his own little empire, back in the third bedroom.
Me, I’ve got the full Salinas icing deck. We move twenty-four cars through in railroady fashion in my sessions. Pre-ice, load, then ice-topping. Then the train rolls and rolls hard for points east. That’s the way they did it on the Coast Route, and that’s the way I did it.
Dad, God love him, just wanted to stop, swap a couple of cars and run on.
I took a moment to look at the icing deck, this relic from his layout two decades past. There were the teams of two guys lugging the ice with their grips. There was the bent roof panels, those little details that I recognize as his. I looked it over, then pushed that one reefer under the deck, uncoupled, and rolled on.
I didn’t have time to reflect further. There were three other spurs to work, the train to reverse, and another one waiting in the yard for me.
But it was nice to think about that spur from long ago, of Dad’s icing deck, and operations the way Dad wanted it done.