Another interesting experience…

Recently I had a physical therapy appointment. That day, the only two staff members present who had seen me previously seen me were the female receptionist (out front), and a new 20-something male staff member who has only seen me a couple times. (He has not previously used any gender-specific forms of address for me, though when I started going to that office, there was confusion.) This 50something female therapist was new to me, and was obviously a substitute, since my “regular” male therapist was absent. Naturally, I once again precipitated some confusion… (it wasn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last!)

My “outfit du jour” was: tan stirrup pants with ballet flats, and a short sleeve long tunic top (untucked.) I was wearing a womens’ sweater, and carrying my purse. Accoutrements were my now-long (I need a manicure) pinkish fingernails and long hair. No makeup or jewelry.

The session started off normally, with regular warm-up exercises “alone.” Then the therapist came in and began the session. As she worked, she noticed my fingernails, and complimented them, with the usual “girl talk” about our nails and keeping them up. Then came additional typical “girl talk” about kids and grandkids. So far, so good, and the conversation stayed generic. She loved my long hair, and that (as well as hair color) became another topic for a short discussion.

Eventually the “my spouse” discussion surfaced, as did discussion about kids’ and grandkids’ names as well. What tipped me off about the direction the discussion was heading: it included origins of the names and their history in families. Case in point – my given name – which does have a family history. You may remember my mentioning that it used to be a predominantly male name (Dad and Granddad), and which over the past 40 years has been given mostly to newborn females.

We continued our discussion, and it apparently solidified her inkling that “all is not what it seems to be.” I didn’t sense any problem or concern with it, but when she inquired how I wished to be addressed, that made “what was on her mind” obvious. Since this office was rather close to home, and people in town talk, I indicated that because of my preference for long hair and pretty nails, comfortable clothes, and the convenience of carrying a purse, it’s easier to simply respond to either form of address.

As the session ended, there was no issue whatsoever, all was well, and she addressed me in the manner plainly shown on their records – as a guy. “Follow the records” is always the safe course.

Unlike the clerk at the pharmacy from a while back (who got fired as a result of his extreme antagonism toward me), this was truly a case of: “no harm, no foul.” And “as a guy” is the same way my regular therapist refers to me anyway…LOL!

So now, on to the next adventure…

Mandy

Would this work?

When vaccination has finally come to exist, and the virus is less of a threat, the more-womanly Mandy may be able to emerge again.

This is an everyday outfit around the house (though typically sans any shoes.) It’s comfortable, I’m used to wearing dresses, and would love to wear them more often in my outings.

But having stayed mostly in skirts on past outings, I’m not sure this would work in public. What do you think? With makeup, earrings and jewelry, white sandals (or flats if the weather is bad), brightly painted nails, my long hair, purse and so on, would this work in the spring and fall? (Or in summer with a short sleeve blouse instead of a turtleneck?)

It would be a big change for me…just not sure if it’s “for the better!”

Mandy

Wayland, NY – late 1980’s

No, it’s not what it appears to be.

Yes, it IS the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western/later Erie Lackawanna passenger station in Wayland. But this was at that time (and still is) the stub end of the former line from New York City to Buffalo, which lost through train service on June 30, 1962.

Wayland then began being served by the Bath and Hammondsport Railroad, one of those short lines which “hangs on by a thread.” The passenger car and station were bought by (and station still is owned by) Gunlocke Manufacturing, a furniture manufacturing company. Both venues served as office and conference space for them.

Just as a curious observation, FDR acquired some Gunlocke furniture for use in the White House, elevating the company’s status just a bit!

Recently I checked Google Maps to see what’s left at the site. Gunlocke still exists, as does the station. However the passenger car is gone. And track has been rearranged to the other side of the station. And last I heard, they weren’t getting any freight!

Nothing is permanent except change…

Mandy

Back in the day…

1985 to be exact, my wife and I made a sightseeing excursion to the UK for some sightseeing.  (That was “in the days before Mandy.”)  We had a fabulous time.  One of the places we enjoyed visiting was Edinburgh,  Scotland.  And we got there from London by – you guessed it – British Rail!

Our visit to Edinburgh was on board what is called a diesel-multiple-unit passenger train.  There are several cars, each equipped with a small diesel engine turning a generator, which powers its own electric traction motors.  And as many of these as necessary can be coupled together (multiple units) to provide a train of the required length. 

The advantage of such a type of equipment for the vacationer is the ability to “see very clearly the track and scenery in front of you.”  That’s because the operating cab (complete with engineer – or driver in the UK) is located at the end of the lead car, where the steps are traditionally located!  And there is at least one door window into the passenger compartment – sometimes many more than that.

Guess where we sat?

But the gorgeous view made our efforts worthwhile.  Now for a bit of history about the photogenic bridge just ahead…

It’s a cantilever railway bridge across the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland, approximately 9 miles west of central Edinburgh. It’s considered a Scottish symbol, having been voted Scotland’s greatest man-made wonder in 2016, and yes, it is impressive.  It was designed by the English engineers Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker. It is sometimes referred to as the Forth Rail Bridge (to distinguish it from the adjacent Forth Road Bridge), although this has never been its official name.

Construction of the bridge began in 1882 and it was opened on 4 March 1890 by the Duke of Rothesay, the future Edward VII. The bridge carries the Edinburgh–Aberdeen line  across the Forth between the villages of South Queensferry and North Queensferry, and has a total length of 8,094 feet (2,467 m). When it opened it had the longest single cantilever bridge span in the world.  That record remained until 1919, when the Quebec Bridge  in Canada was completed. It continues to be the world’s second-longest single cantilever span, with a span of 1,709 feet (521 m).

The bridge has a speed limit of 50 miles per hour for high-speed trains and diesel multiple units, 40 miles per hour for ordinary passenger trains and 30 miles per hour for freight trains. The route availability code is RA8, but freight trains above a certain size must not pass each other on the bridge. Up to 190–200 trains per day crossed the bridge in 2006.

In 1882 the National British Railways were given powers to purchase the bridge, which it never exercised. In 1923, the bridge was still jointly owned by the same four railways, and so it became jointly owned by these companies’ successors, the London Midland and Scottish Railway (30%) and the London and North Eastern Railway (70%). The Forth Bridge Railway Company was named in the Transport Act 1947 as one of the bodies to be nationalized and so became part of British Railways on 1 January 1948. Under the Act, Forth Bridge shareholders would receive £109 of British Transport stock for each £100 of Forth Bridge Debenture stock; and £104 17s 6d of British Transport stock for each £100 of Forth Bridge Ordinary stock.The bridge and its associated railway infrastructure are now owned by Network Rail.

As you can see, this bridge is a beauty – an absolute engineering marvel, in addition to being very dated-looking. It may well be prettier than some famous bridges here in the USA (our Golden Gate, New River Gorge, or Mackinac Straits bridges.)

Enjoy!

Mandy

Timeless?

While this was taken several autumns ago, the skyline (at the Museum of Science & Industry in Baltimore), is timeless.

And not much has changed. The skyline remains basically the same.

Well, one thing has changed: “the virus”, which severely hampers the world, as well Mandy’s ability to get out and about. Between masks, social distancing, and a general desire to avoid doing anything which could risk exposure to the virus, leaving the house is always a challenge.

True, there are some things which require it, and some which make obtaining a given result easier. It’s tough to get medical attention for some issues without leaving the house. When your printer runs out of ink, it requires either a several-day wait for the new one to arrive, or a trip to a store. And when one lives out it the sticks, when you run out of milk, eggs and so on, there is little choice but to mask up and get in the car.

So let’s all do our part, stay safe and try to beat this thing…stay safe.

Mandy

It was a “wall of sound…”

The idea for the second American Freedom Train (nearly three decades after the original one in the late 1940’s) was first conceived by successful broker Ross Rowland, Jr. who first thought of the idea in 1969 when he saw the popularity of the Golden Spike ceremony in Utah, which celebrated the centennial of the Transcontinental Railroad’s completion.  However, Rowland realized that for the train to become reality would require a lot of work in a short period of time.  He first began soliciting the idea for a second coming of the Freedom Train in 1971 but found little success in the way of sponsorships; no one believed that a steam-powered, cross-country excursion to celebrate the nation’s upcoming Bicentennial would be very successful.  Additionally, the concept of spending millions of dollars on something that would not earn a dime in returned investment seemed even more frivolous.

In the end, all the financial hurdles were overcome, sponsorships were provided, and the American Freedom Train toured the country in 1975–76 to commemorate the United States Bicentennial. This 26-car train was powered by three newly restored steam locomotives. The first to pull the train was the former Reading Company T-1 class 4-8-4 #2101. The second was the former Southern Pacific 4449, a large 4-8-4 steam locomotive which remains in operating in operating condition today. The third was former Texas & Pacific 2-10-4 #610 which pulled the train in Texas. Due to light rail loadings and track conditions on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad diesels hauled the train from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama. Diesels were also required in Chicago after the steam locomotive derailed attempting to negotiate tracks by the Chicago lakefront.

The train itself consisted of 10 display cars, converted from New York Central and Penn Central baggage cars. They carried more than 500 treasures of Americana, including George Washington’s copy of the Constitution, the original Louisiana Purchase, Judy Garland’s dress from The Wizard of Oz, Joe Frazier’s boxing trunks, Martin Luther King Jr’s pulpit and robes, replicas of Jesse Owens’ four Olympic gold medals from 1936. (one of which was stolen somewhere along the way), a pair of Wilt Chamberlain’s basketball shoes, and a rock from the Moon.

Its tour of all 48 contiguous states lasted from April 1, 1975, until December 31, 1976. More than 7 million Americans visited the train during its tour, while millions more stood trackside to watch it parade past.

The tour began in Wilmington, Delaware, and headed northeast to New England, west through Pennsylvania, Ohio to Michigan, then around Lake Michigan to Illinois and Wisconsin. From the Midwest, the tour continued westward, zigzagging across the plains to Utah and then up to the Pacific Northwest. From Seattle, Washington, the tour then traveled south along the Pacific coast to southern California. The train and crew spent Christmas 1975 in Pomona, California, decorating the locomotive with a large profile of Santa Claus on the front of the smokebox above the front coupler. For 1976, the tour continued from southern California eastward through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, then turned north to visit Kansas and Missouri before traveling through the Gulf Coast states and then north again to Pennsylvania. The tour continued southeast to New Jersey then south along the Atlantic coast before finally ending December 26, 1976, in Miami, Florida. The last visitor went through the train on December 31, 1976.

In early 1977, National Museums of Canada bought 15 of the cars and from 1978 to 1980 toured across Canada as Discovery Train, a mobile museum focusing on that country’s history. 

I had the good fortune to be trackside 43 years ago (in 1977) at the horseshoe curve on CSX (former B&O) near a town called Mance, PA (yes, ANOTHER horseshoe curve) on Sand Patch grade. Perfectly timed, as former AFT’s Reading RR 2101 (which was still operating at that time), dragged a heavy excursion train of vintage passenger equipment. She dug in and worked hard uphill westbound, just before entering Sand Patch Tunnel at the crest of the mountain. 

With apologies to Phil Spector (creator of the “Wall of Sound” music production formula), I will never forget the “mechanical wall of sound” made by 2101 as it crawled past! (Wish I could find the recording I made of it during its climb….)

Enjoy!

Mandy

Another walk down memory lane…

See the circular building on the other side of the river farthest from the camera? That WAS Three Rivers Stadium, a multi-purpose stadium, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1970 to 2000. It was home to the Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball and the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League. (The fountain seen just above the bridge in the foreground is located on “the Point” which is at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. The two become one, and from the Point, they become the Ohio River which flows south and west (left in the pic) 981 miles toward the west, emptying into the Mississippi at Cairo, IL.

Built as a replacement for Forbes Field, which opened in 1909, the US$55 million ($383.5 million today) multi-purpose Stadium was designed to maximize efficiency. Ground was broken in April 1968 and an oft-behind-schedule construction plan lasted for 29 months. It opened on July 16, 1970, when the Pirates played their first game there. In the 1971 World Series, Three Rivers Stadium hosted the first World Series game played at night. The following year, the stadium was the site of the Immaculate Reception. The final game in the stadium was won by the Steelers on December 16, 2000. Three Rivers Stadium also hosted the Pittsburgh Maulers of the United States Football League and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers football team for a single season each.

After its closing, Three Rivers Stadium was imploded in 2001, and the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers moved into newly built stadiums: PNC Park and Heinz Field respectively. Like most stadiums demolished during this time whose replacements were located nearby (including the Civic Arena over a decade later), the site of Three Rivers Stadium mostly became a parking lot. Much like the Pittsburgh Penguins would do with the site of Civic Arena, the Steelers retained development rights to the site of Three Rivers, and would later build Stage AE on portions of the site, as well as an office building that hosts the studios for AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, the headquarters of StarKist Tuna, and the regional headquarters of Del Monte Foods.  On December 23, 2012, on the 40th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, the Steelers unveiled a monument at the exact spot where Franco Harris made the reception in the parking lot. In 2015, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette moved into a new office building also built on a portion on the site after 53 years in the former Pittsburgh Press building and more than two centuries in Downtown.

After its closing, Three Rivers Stadium was imploded in 2001, and the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers moved into newly built stadiums: PNC Park and Heinz Field respectively. Like most stadiums demolished during this time whose replacements were located nearby (including the Civic Arena over a decade later), the site of Three Rivers Stadium mostly became a parking lot.

Much like the Pittsburgh Penguins would do with the site of Civic Arena, the Steelers retained development rights to the site of Three Rivers, and would later build Stage AE on portions of the site, as well as an office building that hosts the studios for AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, the headquarters of StarKist Tuna, and the regional headquarters of Del Monte Foods.  On December 23, 2012, on the 40th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, the Steelers unveiled a monument at the exact spot where Franco Harris made the reception in the parking lot. In 2015, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette moved into a new office building also built on a portion on the site after 53 years in the former Pittsburgh Press building and more than two centuries in Downtown.

You can see the new stadium on the left (above) and Three Rivers (shortly before implosion) on the right (above).

Thanks for stopping by!

Mandy