The Rail Philatelist December 1998 Newsletter
Volume 3 . Number 7 December 1, 1998Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:
Thanks to all of you who returned my survey so promptly. I apologize for causing so many of you concern - I am not in financial difficulty nor am I considering giving up this business. Admittedly, it is not a money maker but more a labor of love - whatever fortune I'll have in this world I have already acquired. As the story goes, "To end up with a million dollars in the stamp business, start with at least two million!". Well, this is my "million dollar business" since I have passed up about that much in salary since giving up my defense contractor job to do this full time. I appreciate the many expressions of concern and support sent in with the surveys - the following quote from one occasional customer summed up the comments quite eloquently "I read your most recent News and Notes with much interest, and no little concern. I think you perform a great service, albeit one that barely pays your way. I would therefore urge you to make all the small changes you are thinking about; I don't think the resultant increase in price will be a problem to more than a few. I'd certainly increase your p&h fee so that it more nearly covers your costs, especially for small orders. While I personally appreciate the discount, I'd buy the same stamps at your list price without a discount, but then, I've never been much of a bargain hunter. So changing the discount won't alter my buying habits either way. I'd support your most cost-effective strategy for refunds, using stamps (why not up to $10.00?) and credit slips but not cash. I do want you to stay in business!" I didn't realize my questions about a couple minor nagging problems would elicit such an outpouring of support and concern. Nor did I expect a 3-1 vote expressing indifference to discounts and such strong support for credit slips. I guess it is good I asked after all since I was obviously laboring under some misconceptions - things are more complicated than I thought so I'll have to give things a lot more thought before I make any changes. There were also several good suggestions that require careful consideration. Thanks for enlightening me!
NEW ISSUES: There is no "ARRIVAL TRACK" this month since nothing significant in new issues came in by press time. If you don't already have a new issue service or aren't getting everything as you should, why not give my NEW ISSUE SERVICE a try. Items are sent on approval so you can always return anything that doesn't quite meet your needs or budget. Just a few openings left.
NOVEMBER TRAVEL:The highlight of the Nashville show was talking with Robert W. Rediski, the last living passenger on the May 26,1934 historic speed run of the Pioneer Zephyr (see Marshall Islands #657f,1 of 15 in the 1930s Miniature Sheet; also St. Vincent Grenadines #341). He was 14 at the time and rode the telegrapher's seat in the locomotive since his father was a Chicago, Burlington & Quincy RR superintendent. He had several interesting stories to tell about the trip as well as about growing up in one of the six Sears Roebuck kit cabins the CBQ brought to Casper, WY on flat cars in the late teens.. He was a guest of honor for the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry's rededication of the refurbished Zephyr earlier this year. I hope he gets his memoirs written up for posterity. He was thrilled to obtain a Burlington stock certificate and a 34-11-11 First Run Zephyr cacheted cover, but probably not as thrilled as I was by his visit! On my way to "Wasatch Rails" in Salt Lake City, I saw 26 trains between Cheyenne and Rawlins, WY but 10 of them were stopped in or near Rawlins, then nothing for the 100+ miles to Rock Springs. 10 were Intermodal so maybe that UP business has picked up or the traffic varies by day and time. I made my usual dinner stop at the Embers in Green River and the UP put on a show for me while I ate my Porterhouse steak (the Thursday night special) - between 5:30 & 6:45 I watched a Trona (potash) train depart, an SD-40-2 pull a string of loads from the Trailer on Flat Car (TOFC) yard, a Trackmobile move several covered hoppers into and out of the car repair shops, a couple of 3 locomotive movements to and from the engine servicing facilities, another SD-40-2 flat switching a long string of covered hoppers and tank cars, 2 west bounds (1 Autorack, 1 empty coal hopper) and 4 east bounds (2 stackpaks, 1 TOFC, and 1 general merchandise) - the TOFC and both WB stopped for crew changes. All in all quite a dinner show! (Yes,it was dark but the engine service facility lights kept the activity visible). Later, I was treated to an hour of "TRAINS UNLIMITED" on the History Channel in my motel room - a perfect ending to a great day! Friday the 13th started well also with a WB Gen. Merch. climbing the canyon wall west of town while a TOFC and stackpak descended - always a spectacular railroading scene. Near Evanston my scanner picked up a UP train speed summary report in the format Train # (usually lead loco #), CPT 847-978 (probably mileposts but I'm not sure), time and speed (from 55 to 77 mph!). There were a couple more trains near Evanston, one with a leased AMTRAK F40PH, but then nothing in either Echo or Weber canyons the whole way to Ogden. There a couple EB stackpaks were waiting at Riverdale (Ogden) Yard and there were 6 train movements on all three legs of the Ogden wye during the half hour I stopped there before going on to Salt Lake City to set up for the show. The "Salt Lake Trackers" put on a good show including a relaxing $3.00 MORE-THAN-I-COULD-EAT Hoagie dinner after the show Saturday evening - all in all a good time - and sales were good too! The highlight was talking with my customer/friend (actually, most of my customers are friends!) Dana Bassett, former Denver & Rio Grande, then Southern Pacific, now Union Pacific engineer Saturday morning just after he returned from a 21/2 hour TOFC run from Green River, WY to Ogden, UT. He answered most of my questions but he had never heard one of the speed summary messages mentioned above so the "CPT" threw him too. His TOFC run at 70 mph was a good one compared to some runs he has had taking over 20 hours on the same route! I really enjoy getting to the train shows early so I can wander around inspecting all the layout modules for ideas to incorporate into my own layout which will start to take shape when I finally give up the current endeavors - but there are no immediate plans for that as much as my wife would like for me to give up all this travel. I was fortunate to be next to FINE ARTS by DURLIN so during the Sunday morning lull Durlin Keller drew the attached caricature of me and my booth. I think it looks more like David Letterman with eyes raised to heaven, praying for guidance - maybe he did capture the real me after all! On the way back Sunday evening, there were only 6 trains between Salt Lake City and Evanston, WY and no activity in the Green River yard. But there were two WB climbing the wall as I drove in and 2 more WB and 4 EB while I ate dinner. Incidentally, Green River is not only the Trona Capital of the World but also the site where John Wesley Powell launched his expeditions down the Green River and thru the Grand Canyon! Monday morning there were 28 UP trains between Green River and Cheyenne but 10 of them were seen in the hour before I left Green River; then southbound BNSF coal and grain trains at Greenland, CO, both with helpers and a set of helpers running light back North - their coal train was seen a little later rolling down the other side of the Palmer divide.
RAIL THOUGHT OF THE MONTH: "I got a set of train stamps for my wife... Best trade I ever made!". Paraphrase of a bumper sticker sent in by a Montana customer along with his survey and order.
STAMP OF THE MONTH: A toy steam locomotive sticks out of Santa's pack in all three same design stamps from this Monaco set (Scott # 821-3). The Scott Catalog gives the issue date as Jan. 18, 1972, an unusual date considering this is a 1971 Christmas set - did they get the issue date wrong or was the Monaco Post Office that far behind?
May your Holiday Season be filled with Joy!,