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Steam & Excursion > AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End


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Date: 01/05/22 09:48
AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: BoilingMan

AFT Confidential 93- The Trip Home, Day 5.

On Wednesday morning, January 5th, The Southwest Limited delivered me back in California, 5 days shy of when the AFT agreed to take me on a year earlier.
The end of my American Freedom Train adventure (and this 93 Part Series).

As kind of an epilogue, there is one more AFT story to tell...

I returned home to Santa Barbara an returned to what I was doing before this whole thing started- sitting behind the wheel. My former boss at Yellow Cab had started a spin-off delivery service while I was away, and easily hired me back. It was the local face of both FedEx and Airborne Air Freight, neither of which had grow to the point of having their own services in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties yet. We met their planes at LAX and the SB airports and delivered and picked up their packages in our area. Eventually FedEx took off and opened their own offices, I don't know what became of Airborne.
Doesn't matter- by then I'd hired out with Greyhound. Greyhound's business in Santa Barbara kinda slow and I was always looking over my shoulder at getting furloughed. Their business in Northern California was far more solid, so I transferred. That is how I came to live in Dutch Flat- driving for Greyhound out of either Sacramento or Reno.
But that didn't last- in late 1983 Greyhound's management and Labor clashed in a nationwide strike. A fun job had taken an ugly turn. I survived the strike okay, new hires would take the bigger pay cuts. But it was a recipe for trouble down the line, and I started looking for an escape plan.
I applied at Amtrak.
They showed less than no interest. In Oakland all the On Board Zephyr jobs had just been transferred to Chicago. Overnight Oakland Crew Base went from 350 to about 12 employees! (serving only the 2 San Joaquins). LA Crew Base laughed at the idea of hiring a guy who lived 450mi away in Dutch Flat. It didn't look good.
And then I picked up a copy of TRAINS magazine. There was a news photo of Ross Rowland cutting a ribbon in front of Amtrak's reborn Auto Train. Huh?
What in the world did Ross have to do with the Auto Train?! I looked closer- Ross was on Amtrak's Board of Directors?! Huh. So.. what the hell - I cold called Amtrak Headquarters in Washington DC and asked to speak to Mr Rowland. A couple of connecting clicks and Ross picked up the phone! It had been 8yrs since the AFT. Would he even have the slightest idea who I was (I wasn't exactly a key player in all things AFT).
“Hello Mr Rowland, did they tell you who I was?” No. “Um, I'm Stephen Bush. I worked on the Freedom Train”. “Oh! SR! In California, right! How the heck are you!” It was like we were old friends! Well, as I keep saying: if you were AFT, you were family. I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised. We chatted a bit and I explained my situation. Ross said no promises, but he'd look into it.

The next morning Amtrak called: I'd been highly recommended to them in Washington DC. Would I consider coming to work for them?

In 2016 I retired after 32yrs as an Amtrak LSA. I worked Long Distance trains out of LAX for 8yrs (Holding regular spots on the Chief and later, the Coast Starlight), then transferred to Oakland for the start up of the Capitol Corridor. I retired after 24yrs on the Capitols.

Thank you Ross, I made good on your helping hand!

And that kinda* concludes my American Freedom Train Confidential. Thank you for all the nice comments and supporting stories and photos!
It was a fun ride.
SR Bush
AFT Assistant Curator
Dutch Flat

Photo.  Dropping down off Cajon Pass into LA.   The last photo.


*I'll return in the Spring with my minor involvement in the 4449's return to Portland




Date: 01/05/22 10:02
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: jcaestecker

Thank you for your most entertaining chronicle.  Surely the adventure of a lifetime and we all appreciate your sharing it.

-John



Date: 01/05/22 10:25
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: smf2mry

Great series, thanks for sharing.  Your analogy of it being like "Running away with the circus", sure seems appropriate.



Date: 01/05/22 11:28
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: rwullich

Thoroughly enjoyed the whole series!

Happy New Year and I hope that you are doing well my friend.

R.



Date: 01/05/22 11:31
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: TractiveEffort

How about some tales from the Amtrak OBS perspective to hold us over until Spring?



Date: 01/05/22 11:32
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: co614

Thanks SR for a very enjoyable ride with you through history. After you and I hung up I talked with our Sr.VP -Personel and told him that you were available and that you had proved yourself to be an outstanding team member during the demanding journey of the AFT and Amtrak would be fortunate to have you. He said he'd make sure it happened. I'm glad he did. 

   Thanks much for your service to the American people on the AFT and your excellent long term service on Amtrak. 

    Onward and upward !!!  Ross Rowland 



Date: 01/05/22 11:47
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: wcamp1472

SR...

Ross, above,  said it ALL...

Thank you for the trip details and your wonderful memory .
And the Memories...

I especially liked your recollections of nighttime fire-watching on the 4449 ---
they can be magical times...

And the fact that Roy McCormack was along on the trip.  
That was special... in so many ways.

Wes Camp


 



Date: 01/05/22 16:58
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: Locoinsp

Great series of stories of your adventures with AFT! Thanks for sharing your memories and photos with us! 



Date: 01/05/22 17:11
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: BoilingMan

Ha!  Here's an amazing bit of timing...
Santa Barbara had a RR only hobby shop on upper State Street for years.  The owner, Joe Heumphreus, retired and the shop closed years ago.  I'd heard through the grapevine Joe had passed away last month.
This morning, Joe's widow, Mary, called me- she had something I'd given Joe 45yrs ago and wondered if I'd be interested in having it back.

It's the advertising sign that had been on the rear of my cab in Santa Barbara when I picked up the 3 AFT employees and had the conversation that started my whole AFT adventure in January 1976.   I guess I'd given it to Joe (I was leaving town) and it hung in his shop for years...  I'd forgotten all about it.
Mary's going to hand on to it, and I'll pick it up when I attend Joe's memorial in June.
Thanks Mary-  and you too Joe!
SR




Date: 01/05/22 19:02
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: asheldrake

Your postings SR have been absolutely outstanding and as others have said need preservation for future generations.  In our minor way, we at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center with our American Freedom Train exhibit work to tell people about why ORHC exists (Wes convincing Ross that the 4449 was the loco to pull most of the AFT).   The next addition to our AFT exhibit will be to hang  a 12'x18' US flag over the exhibit.  The flag was hung on a downtown Portland high rise following 9/11.  I am a strong supporter that the ORHC AFT exhibit is permanent.

We need to find a author that is willing to develop a book about the AFT.

Be watching for a May Trains magazine article by local author/historian Dan Hanekow telling the story of A.B. Clancy's involvement in getting the 4449 to the City of Portland.

I am hopeful for Ross's AFT 2.0.   To say our country needs it is, in my opinion, a vast understatement.     Arlen



Date: 01/05/22 19:49
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: Trainhand

Thamks for an interesting and informative story of your adventures on the AFT. It was a pleasure reading them.

Sam



Date: 01/06/22 06:40
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: kenw

SR:   Thank you for this fantastic series.  Like sitting down with a great book...don't want the story to end but of course it does.  I really enjoyed reading it and thank you for sharing all of these great stories!  And additional thanks to the folks who added extra pics, stories, etc as well.  And a look back into 1970's styles to boot!

Ken



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/22 09:09 by kenw.



Date: 01/06/22 08:36
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: victortorgrimson

Thank you for this wonderful series.  Its been fascinating to read and enjoy the images.  Thank you for all the work you put into writing this history and sharing it with us!

Victor



Date: 01/06/22 22:42
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: weather

Hey,SR, I neve went to the midwest or east so thisnarrative of yours was my way I finding out what I missed and it was a lot.  It was a great ride!  NOW, stitch it togather for a paperback book and we all can read it from cover to cover!



Date: 01/07/22 06:43
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: ironmtn

From one former Greyhound driver to another, my sincere thanks to you for the entire series. Though I haven't commented often, I've regularly read your posts, and enjoyed them all. It has been tremendously informative, entertaining and brought back a lot of memories. Not only of seeing the AFT, but of my own experiences planning NRHS steam excursions. The inside look at the structure and organization, operations, trials and difficulties, plain old hard work, and yes some fun too, to operate the AFT has been tremendously informative and instructive. If we ever get to a time when such operations can be conceived and executed again, your remembrances will give tons of practical information and insight to anyone involved in planning and operations.

And yes, I have envied you for the experiences you had many more than a few times. You were a very lucky guy to have had the experience. It was a truly unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Thanks for a terrific series!

MC



Date: 01/07/22 11:00
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: jst3751

BoilingMan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I returned home to Santa Barbara an returned to
> what I was doing before this whole thing started-
> sitting behind the wheel. My former boss at Yellow
> Cab had started a spin-off delivery service while
> I was away, and easily hired me back. It was the
> local face of both FedEx and Airborne Air Freight,
> neither of which had grow to the point of having
> their own services in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and
> San Luis Obispo Counties yet. We met their planes
> at LAX and the SB airports and delivered and
> picked up their packages in our area. Eventually
> FedEx took off and opened their own offices, I
> don't know what became of Airborne.

Airborne Express was bought out by DHL in 2003.



Date: 01/08/22 10:02
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: DLM

Fun serries to read. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.  Now how about stories of working for Amtrak. That has to be a few stories that you still shake your head when you think about them.



Date: 01/08/22 11:29
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: BoilingMan

The big difference between writing about the AFT vs Amtrak is that I have photography to back up the AFT stories. Amtrak stories would not be illustrated- would that “sell”?

And, unfortunately (snicker snicker), the very best Amtrak stories are probably best left untold (what happens on board, stays on board)

But I’ll give it some thought..
SR



Date: 01/08/22 11:38
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: BoilingMan

weather Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hey,SR, I neve went to the midwest or east so
> thisnarrative of yours was my way I finding out
> what I missed and it was a lot.  It was a great
> ride!  NOW, stitch it togather for a paperback
> book and we all can read it from cover to cover!

I kind of designed the thing to be printed for my daughter & family.
But I might look into it closer to get an idea about cost. If it penciled out okay, then maybe I’ll look at printing it for the 50th?
SR



Date: 01/08/22 11:53
Re: AFT Confidential 93- AFT Confidential: The End
Author: wcamp1472

Hey, SR....

Count me in, for a book!

I especially loved the crew pictures, through out  … 
I’ll get you an “cash advance”, if that would help! 

Wes Camp
wcamp91543@aol.com


Sent from my iPad 

:
 



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