Friday, June 20, 2008

Sad Farewells

Two fellow Amtrak employees have passed recently, and I sorely miss both of them. First was Dick Bush, Amtrak's Manager of Bus Operations for Northern California. He retired last year and passed only a few months later.

Dick had been battling cancer for the couple of years, but he always kept a smile on his face. He shared smiles with others, too. I have numerous forwarded jokes in my email folders from Dick, and memories of the many, many stories he told over the years.

Dick was a bus man. He had been a driver, dispatcher, etc. for several bus companies over the years, but somehow ended up at Amtrak, where he was a ticket clerk and station employee for quite a while. Then the State of California began setting up extended Thruway bus operations, and Dick worked with Rick Peterson to help set up a very successful system.

Beep, beep, Dick. Keep 'em rolling up in Heaven.

And just the other day we lost Tony Williams. This was a double blow, because Tony had married another longtime Amtrak friend, Lemette Goldston. Lemette was, for many, many years, the clerical crew dispatcher for the Bay District, and just retired a few weeks ago.

I will always see Tony as a smiling man with a cigar. When the San Francisco Reservation Bureau closed in 1974, I went to Oakland 16th Street as a ticket clerk. Tony was one of the Red Caps, formerly an SP employee.

The Red Caps and baggagemen were always a mystery to me. There were something like six baggagemen and four Red Caps per shift. They were always there for the few trains we had, but they seemed to vanish between trains. There were some who never left, of course - I will eventually find the time to blog about Bubba and Alton - but many just disappeared. Tony was one of them who only appeared around train times.

It wasn't until years later that I learned that Tony had a full time job at the nearby Oakland Army Base! Ah, the good old days!

I could always count on two things from Tony - whatever help I needed, and a genuine smile.

Thanks for the memories, guys.