Saturday, January 19, 2013

85 Uses in 85 Days

Remember Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed?  Well, if you're too young to, or you don't like sappy (yet meaningful) Christmas movies...the movie centres on George Bailey and his Christmastime misadventures.  He wonders, what if I'd never existed?  Is there a silver lining to this life?  Deeply philosophical to be sure, I'm relating this story to my second and third VIA books.  What if these books had never been published?  Of course there is still a body of work out there in print and online about VIA Rail Canada.  But it's a Miss America swimsuit competition-thin body, not at all what I'd call VIAluptuous!

Since I published my two recent VIA books, it's been cool to see how the books are being used.  As I've mentioned before, I don't expect people to read their copies cover-to-cover, though apparently some have, and that's great!  I do anticipate the books being used as a comparative reference source, or as I term it, a way to settle friendly arguments.  Here are just a few examples dug out of my Inbox as related to me by book customers of ways they've found the books useful since their release, about 85 days ago:
  • a reminder of a first transcontinental trip on VIA Rail behind F-units in 1986
  • a pleasant reminder of railfanning trips with my son
  • several copies given as Christmas presents (fortuitous timing of the release, eh?)
  • sharp-eyed reader noticing a captioning error, to be corrected in next printing
  • modelling southwestern Ontario in the 1970's-1980's
  • Park car backup lights, white and red
  • finding 1970's Super Continental consists
  • ex-CP 2700-series baggage cars taken on VIA's roster and their use
  • modelling VIA CC&F dinette cars
  • 1980's disposition of Canadian Flyer cars
  • further suggestions for future book projects!
  • researching VIA's unique E-unit operations and timeline
  • RDC, E- and F-unit paint scheme research
  • recollections of forgotten mish-mash VIA consists from the 1980's
  • shortcomings of the ex-CN Tempo equipment
  • VIA's three rebuilt ex-CP F9B's (watch for an upcoming Trackside Treasure blog post)
  • ex-CN FPA4's and other MLW/Bombardier locomotives
  • VIA/CN paint scheme, applied to what equipment and when
  • use of ex-CN diners and ex-CP diners on the Canadian in the late 1980's
  • the Canadian in 1984...and Rapido Trains' VIA Canadian set
  • mixing of GMD and MLW units in the Corridor in the 1970's
  • should we spell it Via or VIA?
OK, so that's only 22 uses, but I'm sure there are at least 63 others I haven't heard about, but you get the idea!  Thanks to each and every customer - may these books help you in the above, and other heretofore-unencountered ways in the days and weeks ahead.

Top photo: Wrecked 6124 at Winnipeg, bottom photo the Canadian wends its way round Lake Superior, 1985.
[And every time an F-unit bell rings, does an angel get its wings, Zuzu? (trivia-style movie quotation reference)]

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

One Little Photo...

In August  2011, CN Winnipeg engineer Mark Perry sent me the above photo by email. Being aware of my main blog Trackside Treasure and my interest in Manitoba railroading, Mark probably knew I'd like the photo.  It shows ex-CP 1413-1898 leading the Canadian - 11 ex-CN and ex-CP cars through Elie, Manitoba in November, 1980.  Taken by Lawrence Stuckey, Brian Schuff also of Winnipeg had added this print to his photo collection.  But Mark probably could not have predicted where the photo would lead. The following email exchange ensued:

Subject: Interesting #1 at Elie MB in the late 70's/early 80's
From the Brian Schuff collection, check out the units, an F and a E running elephant style!

That is one awesome photo, Mark.  Thanks for sharing.  Do you have an email contact for Brian, by any chance?

Brian is a dinosaur and does not have a computer, he either phones or snail mails it.....

Sounds like Brian's purchase of my VIA book, plus a conversation between you two ended up with Brian calling me tonight.  We had a great chat, and it sounds as if we were both photographing the same stuff 'back in the day'.  It also sounds as if Brian has a goal to get on the internet, and I joined you and the others who are encouraging him to try Yahoo, email, or whatever helps him connect with people like us who share his interests.  
[who's just been talking to someone who knows exactly what the significance of '8558' is]

Brian became one of my valued contributors, sharing many of his photos and those from his collection with me for my book project.  In fact, today I just finished scanning a few remaining prints for my collection, and will be dropping them in tomorrow's mail.  Another recent development involves Brian (described by his contemporary Mark as a dinosaur because he wasn't online at the time) joining us keyboard-enslaved hordes by getting online...soon.

You'll hear about it on Trackside Treasure when it happens, but be prepared to see lots of VIA material previously largely unseen.

But this initial photo launched a shipload of VIA-era photographs that added much to my second and third books.  Never underestimate the influence you can have on someone else, even through one seemingly insignificant email.