Trains!


New York Central 20th Century Limited in 1938 (Associated Press via Wikimedia Commons ,public domain)

Ever since I started researching RJL, I've found myself wondering how important trains were in Jack's life. We know the Morris Park station for the Long Island Railroad's journey into New York City was a short distance from the family's home in Richmond Hill. We also know that his grandparents lived just up the New York Central tracks in Germantown -- well, out from Germantown. What I have been unable to learn is whether the family rode the train or whether they traveled in their car. If I were to guess, I would say they took the train into the city and the car to see the grandparents.


What is interesting is that those two routes remain fascinating to railfans to this day. YouTube videos abound. The Long Island Railroad no longer runs through Morris Park, but videos reflect a time when it did.

Pentrex made an outstanding video about a cab ride along the Hudson Division (the former New York Central tracks up to Albany).


Back in Jack's day, the locomotives would have been steam powered and transitioned through the years to General Motors Electromotive Division diesel-electrics. The cars would have transitioned from heavyweights to Streamliners. Today, of course, he probably would take Metro-North's electric multiple unit (EMU) commuter trains from Grand Central Station to Poughkeepsie, where a relative would meet him (That assumes, of course, that he did not travel by hired car. A star does need his privacy, after all).


A company in Toronto, Ontario, Rapido Trains, manufactures scale models of these old trains. They do EMD E-series locomotives from several railroads, including the New York Central. They use laser scanning to pick up all the intricate details on real locomotives, then transfer them to drawings from which they make nearly exact models. The models have lights, interior seats, and even recorded sounds made by the real trains. Amazing! They're pricey, but for the avid railfan, they fulfill a very big dream.


No, I don't think Jack was an avid railfan, but I do think he got about by train quite a lot during his years in New York. How accurate am I? I'll probably never know.

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