Home Open Account Help 230 users online

Steam & Excursion > AFT Confidential 5- Anaheim, CA

Date: 01/09/21 08:58
AFT Confidential 5- Anaheim, CA
Author: BoilingMan

5  Anaheim, CA

From Long Beach the AFT had moved to Anaheim on Friday January 9. I was supposed to work that week end, but my boss at Yellow thought my pursuit of a job with the AFT was pretty cool, so he said he'd give me a day off if I'd go down and try again. Sure, Okay.

The train was displayed on a track running through the parking lot at the (then) California Angels ballpark. It made an impressive sight because the the whole train, less the flat cars, was strung out in one long piece- usually it was displayed broken up in 3 or 4 sections.
I found Marty and, well; they had hired three laborers that very morning! I couldn't believe it! Marty began to explain that they had a steady stream of applicants every day, so...
But she was interrupted when her secretary, Johnna-Lee, stuck her head in the door. “Call for you, Marty”. She gave me the “I think we're done here” look, but I held my seat. I waited while she took the call, and good thing I did- it was one of the three Marty had hired that morning. He'd gotten cold feet! She hung up the phone, shrugged, and said, “Well, okay, you're next... the job is yours if you want it. That's how it works”.

I was in! I was on the slow train to Miami!

She made a call on a portable radio to Greg. If Greg liked me, he would be my new boss. She pointed out the window to a guy sitting alone, away from everything, in a golf cart about a 100yds out. I walked out to the cart and he motioned for me to have a seat.
We sat in silence for an uncomfortably long time, just looking at the train stretched out in front of us. (This seemed kinda weird)
But he was just messing with me, the drama was a joke. (Ah! we'll get along just fine) The job would be laborer- some amount of difficult physical work, mixed with easy tedious work, and very screwed up sleep cycles.
He gave me a few days to tie up my affairs in Santa Barbara. (Anyone want a cat?) Meanwhile, the train would move on to San Diego. The train would leave San Diego on the 18th, and I promised to be aboard by the time they pulled.

So what, exactly, had I gotten myself into?
Best to stop here an explain what I know now, but could only guess at at the time:
Understand that what follows is my own perspective and not necessary vetted fact, so I apologize in advance if I muck this up..

In 1969 Ross Rowland put together the Golden Spike Centennial Express. It was the 100yr anniversary of the Golden Spike and Ross was clever enough to leverage that fact as a reason to run a steam excursion half way across the county. It worked out pretty well!
Next up was the US Bicentennial and again, taking full advantage of a of a historic milestone, Ross really outdid himself- Another Steam excursion, but one with prestige, clout, and momentum enough that no RR in the country could refuse! A museum train with an exhibit significant enough that ANYONE would be inclined to support. Yes, the railfan community was a grateful beneficiary of the AFT, no doubt.. but the staff, the people who “made it happen” were not of that persuasion. They were just everyday folks- up for an adventure.

What the public saw as “The American Freedom Train” was actually 3 separate entities working side by side: The US Army (Color Guard), Kallenbach (Food & Souvenir Concessions), and the AFT Foundation, which ran the train itself (and was my employer).
Even though they worked in such close proximity, there wasn't huge interaction between these entities. The AFT & Kallenbach staff hardly socialized at all and, as a result, I know almost nothing about them. My job routine did not overlap with theirs in any way. The AFT staff & the Army people were a bit more intertwined, and so there were several friendships, although, again, I don't know too much about them.

The AFT staff can be divided up several ways. First, there was the administrative staff in Baileys Crossroads VA (wherever the heck THAT is), and then there was the staff that traveled and operated the train.
The Train Staff breaks down further- Advance Teams (they made arrangements in cities before/during the train's arrival), PR Hosts/Hostess' (handled VIPs etc), Comptrollers ($$), Security, Tickets, and Operations. Operations breaks down further into Carmen, Electricians (includes HVAC & Audio/Visual), Artifacts (maintained the historic displays), Day Crew (did anything that needed doing), and finally Night Crew (cleaning). Something to keep in mind- I've listed the staff in, more or less, it's social pecking order. The Advance Teams were “The Elite”and the Night Crew were, as beloved member Ruben tagged us “The Pukes”.
I was a Puke.

So what about the Engine Crew(s)? Well, I'd group them within Operations, but they were kind of an independent City/State within Operations. Think Vatican City/Rome. And there were two distinct Engine Crews. Ross and his crew with the 2101, and Doyle's crew with the 4449 & 610. BTW: We rarely called the 2101 anything but the “T-1” (it's Reading RR Class), but I prefer 2101- and I'm writing this, so there you go.

Okay, good. Now here are other ways things divide up: The traveling AFT staff was made up of about 85 people. And of those, only 20-25 actually rode the train- the Engine Crew and the Day/Night crews, who also lived aboard. The other 60-75 stayed in hotels and drove their own cars city to city. In other words: the “average” AFT employee didn't actually ride the train!
Further demographics. Probably 90% of the AFT staff was single and fell between 20-25yrs old. The gender break down was something like 60/40% male/female. So you see where this can go...
(I think maybe a half dozen couples met and later married in the train's wake)
At the suggestion of the AFT's Advance People, bless their hearts, many of the sponsoring Bicentennial committees in the cities we visited would welcome us with, more or less, a kegger  You know, so as to make us feel welcome and whatnot..    Beer & tri-tip would surely do the trick. I'm not saying that behind the scenes the AFT was a rolling frat party, but...
At times, it kinda was.
But I don't mean to take anything away from the AFT work ethic- I've never worked with a group of people more determined to get the job done right. I/we were overwhelmingly proud of what we were doing!

Thank you for your patience. I want to tell my story right and it's best to have you understand the world we lived in.
All right, on with the story..
On to San Diego!

SR Bush
Dutch Flat

Fun Trivia: The Idea of the American Freedom Train was not entirely Ross' alone. The idea was suggested to him by John Wayne in '69 at Promontory Summit! Ross and The Duke were old friends.

Date: 01/09/21 09:33
Re: AFT Confidential 5- Anaheim, CA
Author: TractiveEffort

Marvelous narratives!  Keep them coming!

Date: 01/09/21 14:35
Re: AFT Confidential 5- Anaheim, CA
Author: towazy

Quite an accurate narrative, pretty much the same way I would describe it also. There were some exceptions, like I did socialize with a few of the concessions people, and many of the security and advance staff, some of which became good friends. I think the shifts one worked and the fact that most "commuted" to the train from hotels while the ops staff lived on the train and were around it 24/7 made the interaction more difficult than one would imagine. Also, most of the operations staff did not have personal vehicles,so off site interactions were difficult and had to be coordinated among those in charge of the staff vehicles. I actually did bring my personal vehicle along and had other staff members drive it between stops as my primary reason for being on staff was to ride the train!  I actually had a waiting list  to drive it, mostly because it was a way obtain some " freedom" from the Freedom Train!   Lol. That and maybe because it was a performance car, a 76 Camaro Z28. 


Date: 01/09/21 21:38
Re: AFT Confidential 5- Anaheim, CA
Author: yw602

Outstanding story! Cant wait for the next installment.

Date: 01/09/21 22:19
Re: AFT Confidential 5- Anaheim, CA
Author: BoilingMan

I’m going to post these in “real time” circa 1976, on the days the train moved. The AFT moved to San Diego on the 14, so I will post again then.

Date: 01/10/21 12:33
Re: AFT Confidential 5- Anaheim, CA
Author: co614

Thanks SR for sharing your memories. Marty Cummins who has kept the AFT crew reunions going for over 40 years ( we have a crew reunion every 2 years in a different display city) says that a total of 11 marriages resulted from couples meeting on the AFT journey. I'm sure there were an additional lots of romances started during the 21 month journey that didn't make it to the alter.

   Great memories. Thanks, Ross Rowland 

Date: 01/10/21 16:17
Re: AFT Confidential 5- Anaheim, CA
Author: BoilingMan

co614 Wrote:
------------------------------------------------ I'm sure there were an additional lots of
> romances started during the 21 month journey that
> didn't make it to the alter.
>    Great memories. Thanks, Ross Rowland 



Date: 01/10/21 21:04
Re: AFT Confidential 5- Anaheim, CA
Author: Espee2019

The neighbor (my mom's best friend) told of her granddaughter's Anaheim grade-school field trip to tour the train at the Stadium.  A long time in line and then the grown-ups gave up and took them back to the school.  I don't know if it was a matter of too many in line to get in before a Closing Time, or if they didn't want the parents wondering why their kids were out past dark, long after a predicted return time.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/21 21:05 by Espee2019.

Date: 01/10/21 21:24
Re: AFT Confidential 5- Anaheim, CA
Author: SP4360

Yeah I can think of a few ;)

BoilingMan Wrote:
> co614 Wrote:
> ------------------------------------------------
> I'm sure there were an additional lots of
> > romances started during the 21 month journey
> that
> > didn't make it to the alter.
> >
> >    Great memories. Thanks, Ross Rowland 
> Indeed.
> SR
> (wink-wink)

[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.0572 seconds