Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Friday, 21 May 2010 00:00
It all came together for the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum as they held the dedication of the Worlds Fair Car from 1964, on Saturday, May 8. President John Specce said they had been in contact with Paul Kalka, president of the Railroad Enthusiast Association, the REA, a group with 130 members. He was arranging a trip to the OBRM for 45 people that included members of the Electric Railway Association (ERA) and the New York Rail Road Enthusiasts (RRE).
Looking around the rail yard, Mr. Kalka said, “This is great. They’ve really built it up - with the restoration of the equipment. There will be more to come to see as they continue the work. We look forward to that.”
John Specce said that the visit showed a special benefit the OBRM offers the community. “It’s an economic stimulus to the hamlet. They spent the whole day here, walking through Oyster Bay. They had lunch at Canterbury Ales, the dining room was full,” he said.
“There wasn’t an empty seat,” agreed Mr. Kalka.
Mr. Specce said the two had been in contact for three or four months, planning the trip. “We gave them some dates and we agreed on May 8. Mr. Kulka got it all together, and I met them at the train station,” he said.
Mr. Specce made the official commemoration speech. They dedicated the Worlds Fair Cab to the three members, who have since died. “It all comes together. This is one more step to making it all happen,” he said. (See the sidebar story for the full history of the cab.)
Assemblyman Charles Lavine said, “I’m very proud of the efforts made by the volunteers of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum. This is what communities are all about and this is one of the great things going on in this country.”
Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs said, “It is a privilege to have attended the dedication of the World Fair Cab. The constantly growing Oyster Bay Railroad Museum and its rail yard is a phenomenal attraction and I urge residents from all over the county to visit and see the various cabs and the fascinating turntable. It is thrilling for adults as well as children.”
Steve Torborg, a co-founder of the parent group, the Friends of Locomotive #35 with Gary Farkash was at the opening. “It’s really the first piece that we can say is finished. The other caboose is mostly done. This is an important day for the history of the LIRR and our history. We honored three members we lost who helped it all come together. We are one more step closer to making it all happen,” he said.
Mr. Torborg spoke from the heart. He is a community volunteer. He is chief of the East Rockaway Fire Department and has been a member for 23 years. This is his second year as chief. He works as a conductor on the LIRR – meeting the commuting public every day.
“Being a conductor on the LIRR isn’t enough railroading for me,” he said. “Somewhere it says the difference between men and boys is the size of their toys.” Just to keep on an even keel, he keeps his boat in his driveway.
“This is a good way to start the year,” said OBRM board member Lauren Godoy. Her dad is one of the men who will be honored on the brass plaque inside the Worlds Fair Car he helped restore.
Her husband Mark re-built the shanty that is now in pristine condition in the rail yard. The shanty had been stored for two years in the Specce’s backyard.
Bill Bell, OBRM director of development, said, “It’s a glorious day. A great success for the OBRM. There were about 60 visitors overall for our open house.”
Typical of the rail fan group were Staten Island residents Allan Roberts, retired administrator and his wife Laurie, a teacher. She said, “He’s happily retired to enjoy his hobby.” He said, “I’m married to a retired school marm – happily.”
He said he looks forward to seeing Locomotive #35 restored.
“Ron Ziel and his friends started all this,” said Mr. Roberts, when they took an interest in saving the LIRR Locomotives #34 and #39.
“It’s taken lots of time, lots of volunteers, and lots of passion. It’s nice they have these cars. Engine #39 is in the Strassburg Auto Shop now. Some of us remember riding on it. Oyster Bay was the last line to use steam on Long Island, in 1955. The complaints about steam – the soot and the noise - go way back,” he said.
Mr. Roberts said, “I was here two years ago and all the parts were laying in the field.”
President Specce said the work on #34 is progressing. “On Tuesday, May 18, through Saturday, Steam Operations Corp. of Bermingham Alabma is coming to make an in-depth analysis of the locomotive, its wheels, frame and all its components, as well as that of the tender. They will present a report, funded by the 2006 Nassau County Environmental Bond Act outlining the condition of those parts. This is the second part of the restoration process.
“They were here five years ago and did an analysis of the boiler and fire box. Now with the analysis of the running gear; tender; boiler and firebox we will have a complete picture of what we face as to restoring it to operating condition,” said Mr. Specce.
The rail fans arrived in Oyster Bay at 10 a.m. for a visit to the Preview Center, lunch and a walk through Caboose 12, Caboose 50 and the P-54, the Ping Pong coach. They saw the crossing shanty, Dinky locomotives and the turntable, and rested on the benches in the little station area.
For more information please call 558-7036.