B&O Auxiliary shares stories of railroad memories and history

GRAFTON—The ladies of the B&O Auxiliary and guests met at Gallery 62 West this past Sunday to reminisce about the B&O and share memories of times gone by.

The lovely afternoon was hosted by the Taylor County Arts Council. Delicious refreshments were served, the group was surrounded by pictures of railroads from Grafton and surrounding areas and the gallery even had model trains running thanks to model railroad enthusiast, Bill Collett.   

Co-chair of the Taylor County Arts Council Judy Collett welcomed everyone in attendance.

“We are here today for a couple purposes, to celebrate railroads and to share what they call ‘Rails and Tales’ which are all of the stories that you might have about your railroad experiences with your spouses, or parents or grandparents,” she said. “We also want to honor this special group of ladies that are here, the B&O Auxiliary, which is the only existing B&O Auxiliary remaining in the country.”

Barbara Bartlett, B&O Auxiliary president, was the first to speak. She explained some of the history behind the auxiliary. 

Bartlett went on to say that to join the auxiliary you have to have a relative that worked on the B&O and those folks are becoming more few and far in between.

She reminisced that in 1995 they had enough members to fill half the VFW dining room, sadly the numbers have dwindled. 

Member Linda McBee then read the objectives set in the very beginning of the organization.

“To further create and cultivate a spirit of friendship, sociability, harmony and fraternal love among members and families and to have the opportunity for discussion of any matters of mutual interest,” she read.

McBee also shared some interesting facts about the beginning of the auxiliary such as members had to be a spouse or widow of a B&O employee, that they had to remove their hats and gloves for the meetings and that dues could be no less than a $1.25 per year. Everyone had a good laugh about how times have changed.

After McBee, all of the members shared more history and their personal memories of the railroad and their loved ones that worked on it.

Member Reba Biggins told the group that not only did her father work on the B&O for 34 years but that during the war, when so many men were sent overseas, her mother worked on the railroad to help fill the gaps left by the men. 

Several other interesting stories were told, among the most popular were loved ones letting the ladies on the train, as children, to blow the whistle.

Co-chair of the TCAC, Ron Curry wound up the story sharing time of the afternoon by saying,”Thank you all for sharing these many stories and memories of the B&O. This organization means a great deal to my sister Mary and I as our mother was a member for many, many years.”

Curry then introduced Frederick Ripley, the feature photographer, to share some of his experiences with the local railroad.

Ripley’s show is on display through the month of the October at Gallery 62 West.

The TCAC would like to welcome the community to visit Gallery 62 West and enjoy Ripley’s stunning photographs.


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