Article From the Fall 2003 Issue of
The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
While many of our volunteers are happy carving out one area of interest to get involved in at the museum, others enjoy the variety that comes with mastering many jobs. We’d like you to meet a good example of the latter…Dave Peet.
Born in Milwaukee, Dave can claim pretty deep roots right here in Rochester. His parents both came from this area and were on temporary duty in the Beer City when Dave came along in 1944. One of Dave’s ancestors on his father’s side was the first Town Clerk in Penfield back in 1814. The Peets moved back to Rochester in 1951.
It wasn’t long before the subway was just a memory here, and a few years later Dave was off to college at the University of Michigan. He relied on the New York Central to take him back and forth between Rochester and Ann Arbor. In those days Rochester saw over a dozen trains a day each way, and he could actually choose between two trains—The Wolverine and the North Shore Limited—for his trips to and from school.
Dave eventually transferred to the University of Rochester and worked at Kodak while going to school at night. Between the two college stints, he put in four years with the Air Force—two years stationed outside Phoenix at Luke AFB and two at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Dave studied mathematics in college and was assigned to the computer center at the Academy where he worked with a big Burroughs system well before the era of personal computers. He did some programming and provided general support for research that was going on at the Academy, including some work on X-ray crystallography.
While in Colorado, Dave met Pam Livingston whose father also worked in the computer center. They were married in 1969, and after leaving the service a year later, they returned to Rochester where Kodak had a job waiting for Dave. Working at Kodak Park in the Manufacturing Systems Development Department his field was again computers, only now in support of manufacturing. In the instant film area, he concentrated on linking the Digital Equipment computers in the assembly areas to the IBM mainframes.
In August, 1984, Dave was given an assignment at Kodak’s modern manufacturing facility in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. He was part of an effort to bring the information systems up to date and align them with those in Rochester and around the world so that the Brazil plant could play a role in a worldwide manufacturing strategy for film and paper. Dave’s office was in the same building with your Editor, who was also on assignment in Brazil and who had already discovered the Brazilian railway preservation society. Dave and Pam quickly demonstrated their interest in experiencing as much of Brazil and South America as possible, and it wasn’t long before they were talked into coming along on a society excursion. Dave recalls the "scary" ride in the luxury bus as we headed south (the big tour buses ruled the road, and passed whatever and whenever they wanted!). Our trip in a train of Budd rail diesel cars traversed spectacular scenery along the coast in the southern part of the country.
The Curitiba-to-Paranagua trip featured tunnels and sheer cliffs,
Dave and Pam traveled a lot while on duty in South America and often drove the 1950’s-era divided highway called the "Dutra" from Sao Jose to the huge city of Sao Paulo, an hour and a half away. Crossing the Tropic of Capricorn en route was always interesting, but the real excitement came from the Mercedes diesel trucks that were ubiquitous in Brazil. Often lumbering up grades at 10 or 20 miles per hour, their feeble tail lights obscured in a cloud of black diesel exhaust, these trucks were really something to watch out for on an evening return from the Big City.
The Peets returned to the U.S. in March, 1988, and Dave’s next assignment had him working at Kodak Office on State Street. When the opportunity to retire came along in 2002, he took it, and since then has been enjoying time for his many hobbies at home, including some HO model railroading, as well as community activities such as maintaining the mailing list for the Penfield Democratic Party.
Since joining both NYMT and the Rochester Chapter of NRHS, Dave fortunately has made time in his life for our operations. He has served as a guide at Industry Depot on Sundays and for weekday group visits, and has also put time in on track car duty. His availability for weekday groups is especially valuable, and on several occasions he’s handled both track car and depot guide in one seamless effort. Dave has quickly picked up the routine in the Gift Shop and was a big help at the ticket desk during this summer’s busy Diesel Days. He’s also been a car host and car cleaner for the chapter’s fall foliage train rides. Dave is a quick study in these various visitor-interface jobs and we’re happy to have his time and talents to spread around.
But his help goes beyond the public operations. He’s been especially helpful this summer keeping our fields and lawns mowed, riding the Ford tractor or one of our smaller mowers.
Although Dave claims no special skills, we’re sure he won’t have any trouble contributing to restoration work, which he’s expressed an interest in. His hope for the museum is to see our entire trolley fleet looking good and eventually operating under wire on the rail line. Thanks, Dave, for all your good efforts. We share your hopes for NYMT and we’re happy to have your help in all its many forms!