Article From the Spring 2002 Issue of
The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
A TRANSPORTATION TIP
Is there anyone out there who hasn’t discovered that you are probably eligible for a nice discount on your car insurance if you complete a safe-driver course every three years?
One of many community services performed by NYMT members Dick and Maria Anderson is teaching the AARP version of this kind of training. Their course, geared to older drivers, is called the "55 Alive Safe Driving Course". Given several times a year, you must reserve a spot in an upcoming class and attend two half-day sessions to earn your "diploma". The fee is just $10, although other courses under different organizations charge other prices.
Dick and Maria guide the class through the workbook, with nice emphasis on discussion within the class to add depth to the lessons. You’re guaranteed to discover some things you didn’t know about the current rules of the road, causes of accidents, and ways to be a safer
YOU WANNA GO WHERE? ON WHAT?
This story can’t be true, but it came up years ago in a lunch time conversation, and seemed like a nice picture of the way things used to be, transportation-wise, around Rochester. Bear with us…
It seems there was a highly placed executive at the Eastman Kodak Company who had to get to New York City in a hurry. Pulling some strings, he booked space on the prestigious Twentieth Century Limited—the finest and fastest of the New York Central’s "Great Steel Fleet", and the only train on the system appropriate to his position…in his opinion at least.
Late that night, he arrived at the Rochester station and presented his ticket. The night agent was aghast. The Twentieth Century? That couldn’t be! There are lots of overnight trains to New York, but the Twentieth Century doesn’t stop in Rochester! A quick glance at the timetable assured him of what he already well knew, that the pride of the Central stopped at Toledo and, according to the timetable at least, didn’t stop again until Albany. And yet, here was this
Very Important Person, fully expecting to board the Limited in just a short while from now! What to do…?
The agent thought for several minutes. About the importance of keeping the Century’s schedule intact. About the importance of Kodak’s business. About the importance of keeping his job! Finally, he hit upon a solution, pounded out some frantic messages on the telegraph, and told the executive everything would be all right.
Shortly before the Century was expected, the agent ushered the important passenger to the platform. He placed one of the man’s two valises next to the tracks in clear sight under one of the overhead lights, then walked down to the west end of the platform, leaving the other suitcase in a similar spot. He then guided the man down to the far eastern end of the platform and told him to step up close to the edge.
Soon a brilliant headlight appeared west of the station, and the sounds of a fast steam train could be heard. As the locomotive began crossing the Genesee River bridge, the power was shut off and sparks started flying from the brake shoes. Still moving at a good clip the slowing steam engine roared past the waiting executive, looking small and a little too alone on the vast platform.
As the train continued to slow, down at the west end a sleeping car porter standing in the open steps of his car reached out and grabbed the first suitcase, then turned as he threw it into the vestibule. He returned to his precarious position just in time to snag the second bag and toss it inside.
With the train still moving, the porter returned once more to the bottom step, reached his arm out and threw a bear hug around the astonished VIP, dragging him up the steps as the Pullman car rounded the curve and the locomotive began to accelerate.
The executive made it to New York City in the style he demanded, more or less. BUT, The Twentieth Century Limited did not stop in Rochester!