Frannie's Blog

My photo
Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Canada
I look for beauty and truth in everything. It's not always there of course but I try to find it or make it happen. I love people who make me laugh.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Train Man

My father has always had a passion for trains and books. He often used this icon below his signature; I found this one on the flyleaf of his 1912 edition of "Rhymes of A Rolling Stone" by Robert W. Service.

  Here is young Jack with his stepfather who's name he adopted. Dad's biological father died during WWI and never saw his son. My grandmother later married the above gentleman, moved to Northern Ontario where he worked for the railroad, and proceeded to have four more babies, half-siblings for my Dad. And so began his life-long fascination for trains.
Like this locomotive engine...
...or this one on which he took an unintended runaway ride after a session of unsupervised fiddling with the controls, a tale he still loves to tell.
No, this is not the result of his adventure but it is an example of his enthusiasm, even photographing train wrecks.
Dad painted this when he was in his late teens. I love the way he did the smoke by spattering over a mask or stencil which he cut in the appropriate shape.
Here's my Mom, Phyllis, during their early courting days. Evidently she didn't mind sharing Dad's enthusiasm for all things railway. Or maybe she's saying, "You've gotta be kidding!"
And so Dad became an executive in publishing. He never worked for the railroad.
He did indulge his passion with a series of model railways.  
This one was set up in his Montreal apartment which was Dad's pied-a-terre while working downtown during the week. I stayed overnight there once while my son was having his tonsils out at the nearby Childrens' Hospital and was treated to a demonstration of a train wreck while trying to sleep on the sofa.
A few years ago I invited Dad to join our local Artist Trading
 Card group. I gave him some card stock and some magic markers the night before the trade. Here's what he came up with.

Pretty good for a guy of  (then) ninety two. These are copies; his originals were scooped up quickly. Now, at ninety four, Dad is restricted by arthritis and degenerative eye disease and so is unable to attend  get-togethers let alone create cards like these. He still has a lot of spirit and sense of humour. So, J.V.D., I dedicate this post to you!


Barbara Strobel Lardon said...

Frannie, that was so interesting about your Dad. What a tribute to a very talented & handsome man.

frannie said...

Thanks Barbara. It's been a while since my last post because Blogger made some changes that threw me off course. Now I think I've got it.

Ronna said...

I treasure the 2 cards I have of your dad's. Thanks for this post.

Knatolee said...

Great post, Fran! I love all the photos and drawings, and the pic of your Dad, too. Here's to your Dad!
(My Mum was a "Phyllis" too.)

Evlyn said...

It was wonderful to read about your father and his love of trains. It made me feel a bit nostalgic because my grandfather worked for the railroad in Northwestern Ontario in the 1920's and 30's. There was a romance about trains then -- they were beautiful machines and travelling by train seemed so elegant. This is captured by your dad's amazing ATCs! Thanks for this post, Fran.

frannie said...

Evlyn, that makes another connection we have. Maybe our grandfathers knew each other?

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tthrash said...

Another great post, Frannie--you've combined two things I really like: narrating the family story and trains. I have a few family history posts on my blog ( ; directly accessible via the "Family History" label) which you are welcome to check out, and I have until next Saturday to rewire my train layout for a family gathering. No doubt, a post will follow on that. Regardless, I really like the way you add the old pictures to help tell the story.

Elisabeth said...

Hi Fran.
Lovely tribute to your father.

translation said...

I treasure the 2 cards I have of your dad's. Thanks for this post. And what about the website translation.

Odie Langley said...

The photo of your dad shows him as a very handsome man. My dad died in 1974 one month before my middle daughter was born. My mom died in 2002 at the age of 81. My dad's sister, my Aunt Katie, is 101 and still active. She is an amazing woman and I try to spend as much time with her as I can. Her brother, my Uncle Lester just celebrated his 93rd birthday. Maybe I will be blessed with some of that longevity.

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