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Nostalgia & History > Maroon Monday - Catching the Mail

Date: 02/10/20 10:04
Maroon Monday - Catching the Mail
Author: Prophoto

Lance Garrel's (SantaFe199) photograph of the Rock Island's Golden State which he uploaded today has reminded me of this photograph which I took a long time ago when I was a kid. You are looking west down the Golden State's route through western Kansas. By the time I took this photograph, the Golden State was no longer carrying the mail and this mail crane was about to disappear. When I was a child my grandmother took me down to the station almost every day when I was there and would patiently wait with me for the arrival of No. 4 as it flew through the little town at 79 mph, grabbing the mail as it went. And was she was patient. No. 4 was never on time. Moreover we had no way of knowing when it would arrive. Eventually, the light down the tracks west of the station would go red. I can still close my eyes and put myself back there on a warm summer's evening, birds singing, a warm breeze stirring; followed by the distant and beautiful tones of whatever horns the Rock's engines used in the 1950's, the maroon engines appearing from behind the station at speed, whistle filling the air, the rails bouncing, dust flying, mail sack disappearing into the RPO car, and all those lovely passenger cars sprinting by. The whole thing lasted about 8 seconds and was worth every minute of all those hours spent waiting.

At the gallery in Albuquerque where I show my work we are preparing a show of photographs that can no longer be made. One member has a photo of Notre Dame before the fire, another has a lovely shot of the famous cypress trees on the north coast of California that blew down in a fierce storm last year, another of the fallen Wall Arch in Arches National Park, etc. This will be mine; a photograph of a time long gone, but remembered well and fondly.

Date: 02/10/20 10:09
Re: Maroon Monday - Catching the Mail
Author: GPutz

Thanks, Bob, for the image and the poetic story behind it.  Gerry

Date: 02/10/20 10:10
Re: Maroon Monday - Catching the Mail
Author: jbohdan2

I like the photo but love the story with it even more.  That is a treasured memory for sure.

Date: 02/10/20 11:55
Re: Maroon Monday - Catching the Mail
Author: santafe199

Excellent photo/story! Your Grandmother should be in the railfan hall of fame... :^)


Date: 02/10/20 13:04
Re: Maroon Monday - Catching the Mail
Author: rrman6

Bob, you've painted the perfect picture in words and have displayed a scene I recall myself in my old RI town of Haviland, KS in my younger years of the early 1950's.  I don't recall the location of your picture, but if you were in daylight waiting for No. 4, you were in the Oklahoma Panhandle or furher west as I didn't see this train until about 9:00PM.  If with me, you'd be looking westward and would replace the elevator on the right with the larger 1887 RI typical depot and positioning it across from the larger elevator on the left, it would look similar to my hometown.  God Bless your grandmother, that she had the patience in waiting and the foresight to bless you with this fabulous sequence of time.  In your photo I notice the long stick like item that is resting aginst the main post.  I vision it being used to raise the framework arms to the "square stage" with bag attached while the latch portion locks into its function.

What I recall at Haviland was a Mr. Mayhan, the local RI freight handler and local USPS mail handler, always posting and retreiving the mail bags from the RI Imperial and Golden State Limited trains.  He drove an early 1940's Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup with the typical red/yellow scheme of that time.  Many times I saw him hang the bags and the train snatching them from the mail crane with the mail hook in the doorway of the RPO car.  Thanks for a great travel back in time.  Good luck with your Albuquerque submission of this photo!

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