‘That’s All I Got’ – Peartree’s Last Day On The Railroad

by Jim on 2022/06/15

A Happily Anticlimactic Ending

This is it. This was Peartree’s last day railroading. Today is Wednesday 15 June 2022. Forty-nine years ago today, Peartree went to work for and on the Southern Pacific Railroad, the railroad where his father was employed. Today, Peartree worked his last day railroading for the Louisiana & Delta Railroad, where he had been employed for more than a quarter of a century.

Today was a bit anticlimactic, which makes sense given that yesterday was Peartree’s last day working the ground, meaning that yesterday’s photo essay is better than today’s.

Anyway, today being a special day didn’t mean that I didn’t have to be subjected to the stupidity of society. “The woke pandemic has infiltrated the NCAA,” said the DJ on Eagle 98.1 as I was driving to the track. I guess that the people running this radio station to which I listened when I was an impressionable teenager always were sadistic jerks, but it’s still both depressing and infuriating to hear this hate on a radio station that meant something to me in an impressionable part of my life.

“Rocket Queen” by Guns N Roses was the first song that I heard when I turned the radio on this morning, before I even crossed the bayou. “Livin On The Edge” by Aerosmith was playing on Eagle 98.1 as I arrived at the interchange yard in New Iberia at 09:08 CDT.

We start our pictures today at what was once one of the coolest railroad places in southern Louisiana.

Yeah, nothing really gets better in the realm of railroad enthusiasm, and this is no exception.

Everyone is here, except for everyone who isn’t here.

Twenty years ago, that scene would have included a few CF7s in a variety of paint schemes as well as some GP10s in the neat Mountain Laurel paint scheme.

There is the old man with his impressive tuft of white hair saying goodbye to one of his colleagues.

I think that the other man is a Maintenance-Of-Way worker.

I think that both of them remember Forrest Becht, who was the general manager from the time of the Louisiana & Delta Railroad’s inception in 1987 until about 2001.

I have heard only good things about Becht from L&D people.

I grew up at this railroad’s eastern outpost, and it has always been meaningful to me.

Air conditioning is very important.

Here is a better-lit view of the depot.

I like the architecture of the depot.

Yes, this would have been a passenger station at one point, and I am not sure that freight operations were based out of here until long after the place opened.

This is a good day for Peartree.

He, like the depot, is a relic of area railroading!

He had to go back and forth between the administrative office and the crew office – the door by which he is standing here – to do some retirement paperwork.

So, some really troubled person who is in a position of power to take her troubles out on others had to add a real sour note to the day.

Don’t tell me to not photograph Peartree on his last day if I’m doing it with his encouragement!

I asked him what her problem was, and he said that he didn’t know.

It’s hot.

Did I mention that it’s hot?

I’m glad that I am doing this, but I’ll be glad when I am no longer doing it, because it’s hot.

Peartree approaches the LDRR 1702 to board it.

Hey, what’s that EOTD doing there?

That climbing is something that is going to end soon for Peartree!

Now, it’s time to get into the cab.

Only on someone’s last day of a long railroad career am I going to get this much detail and do so so repetitively. I am trying to stop, but I am not having any success, obviously.

So, just deal with it.

So, yeah, it’s time to unlock the cab and get inside.

That’s how it works.

It’s time to go and turn the locomotives on.

The locomotives are sitting on the beginning of the once-busy and once-proud Midland Branch.

The track still goes to the locomotive shops and car-repair yard where sugar refined sugar is loaded onto hopper cars.

Beyond that on the branch is the Pesson Spur, where pipe is loaded at the Port Of Iberia.

Being repetitive is bad, Jim.

These locomotives are about as old as or a little bit older than Peartree is.

That both says something about those locomotives and says something about Peartree!

Okay, now, it’s about time to crank the engine on.

Pay close attention to the top of the picture.

There we go!

There is the exhaust!

Mais, look at that.

It is on!

This is railroading.

And I am a damn foamer. 😐

It’s time to go and check the headlight.

Well, I can tell that something is illuminating the headlight casings on the 1703.

But there needs to be a more meaningful check.

Well, that’s that.

That’s not like the process of starting an automobile!

This is a full-body workout.

I wonder if he is thinking “this is the last time that I’ll do this.”

Hey, it’s a GP10-1.

Now, what is happening?

Wait a minute!

Why does he have to take the trash out at the start of the workday?

Yeah, so, here comes CV, who will be working the ground in a crew with Peartree on Peartree’s last day.

So, it begins.

I like the view of – or the addition of – the old buildings in the background of these scenes of Peartree returning from the dumpster.

Let’s drop a little elevation here to alter the relationship between the main subject and the background.

I could show – and compare – those two images in a photography class.

I guess that I should do that.

I could teach some things if I could find a venue to do it.

Man, what is up with these EOTDs already on the locomotive?

Why is CV bringing them to the office when they are about to go out on a train?

So, the answer to this is the same as the answer to why there were trash bags full of trash on the locomotives before Peartree and CV boarded them.

The previous crew had just left them on the locomotives, leaving CV and Peartree to clean up their mess.

Peartree is still checking the locomotives.

It’s about time for the bow!

Oh, here it comes!

Yes, sir!

I should have caught it on video, but the only video cameras that I have are on either of my mobile communications devices.

So, you’ll just have to imagine the bowing motions here.

Connect the dots.

That is pride.

That’s a smile to start the last workday of a long railroad career.

Yes, that’s right!

Alrightey, let’s go.

CV is about to get on the train.

They went to the interchange yard.

So, after switching, building their train, they are swapping ends here.

They have to go east to the Powerhouse Spur.

So, they are setting up to run on the mainline but are still in the siding.

And what’s going to happen is that Peartree will be in the 1702 controlling the movement, pushing the train, while CV will be in the front in the 1703 sounding the horn.

I think that this is because the train has to maintain the same locomotive-number identification over the radio.

So, in these two images, above and below, you can see CV getting into the cab of the 1703.

Next, I am a little bit farther west at Anderson Street.

This is very much a New Iberia scene.

I think that these next few scenes at Anderson Street are some of the bests of the day.

The lighting has yet to get too high-angle to be good.

That’s good.

In this going-away shot, you can see the beginning of the MoP spur.

Peartree is at the controls of the 1702.

Next, we are at South Lewis Street.

I have never done this shot before and am unlikely to ever do it again.

More than an hour passed between that shot and the next shot, and I have no memory of what I did during that time. I might have well been kidnapped and teleported away by aliens from another planet.

So, here we are at around 12:31 CDT on the ARA spur, as the crew is working the transload facility.

We are at 2nd Street.

There is CV.

It’s really hot.

Did I ever mention that I hate the heat?

That hat is a good look for CV.

There is some plane stuff happening here.

Here is the eastward view on Admiral Doyle Drive.

CV protects the shove.

There are too many carbon emissions.

But here we are, doing more of it.

C’est la vie.

This stuff was shipped more than a month ago.

There is Peartree.

I’ve never really photographed these angles much before.

Foaming is a waste of time.

This right here is why I say that today was anticlimactic compared to yesterday.

The sugarcane here makes the shot, I think.

I wish that this operation were cleaner.

I wish that these were railroad-owned hopper cars with cool, old-school railroad logos on the side, like you’d have seen 40 years ago.

But this is what we get.

This is the world in which we live.

I don’t like it.

Yeah, so, I am waiting by the bank.

Here comes a westbound BNSF Railway train.

This is mainline railroading in 2022.

I found something that I like in the train.

That’s difficult to do these days, and it’s a low bar.

So, apparently, Peartree’s train got by me.

Yeah, we’re in the interchange yard.

CV and Jace are talking.

It’s Peartee’s last day, but it’s a routine day otherwise.

So be it.

This is a typical afternoon on the L&D.

Meanwhile, these are some of the last acts that Peartree performed in his railroad career.

That’s it for the yard work. CV climbs onto the 1703, and the two locomotives will soon begin their move back to the depot to tie down.

There they are.

That’s Peartree in the cab, about to climb out of it or any locomotive cab for the last time.

Meanwhile, Paul in the 1707 is about to tie down, too.

CV has climbed down from the 1703.

Now, he’s getting onto the 1702.

He is going to help to unload all of the equipment and supplies from the cab.

Yes, I am about to be super-repetitive here, but it’s a historic occasion, okay?

I do not imagine myself taking large amounts of train pictures in the future.

So, I can spare some capacity of my own here.

That’s it. Peartree exits the cab for the last time and locks the door.

Now, all that there is left to do is climb down and come to the depot.

CV helps with the ice chests.

The LDRR 1702 will now always have the distinction of being the last locomotive controlled by Peartree.

At some point in this process, he said, audible enough for me to hear it standing where I was about 200 feet away, “that’s all I got.”

Man, what you got – or what you had – is enough.

CV helps with the ice chests.

I told you that I would be repetitive here.

If I’m going to stop being repetitive, which would generally be a good thing, this is not the place or the time to start.

Now, he is posing!

There is the bow that should have been recorded on video!

He has a good sense of humor.

This is how it ends.

It’s over.

It’s time to walk across the tracks back to the depot.

He must be watching Paul arrive on the 1707.

The moving 1707 was about to make a great backdrop for the best picture of Peartree’s walk back to the depot.

Here come CV and Paul.

And here comes Peartree.

Try to imagine that picture and the following few pictures without the 1707 there.

Paul inadvertently did us all a big favor.

It’s like stepping into retirement.

Here it is, here is the iconic shot, which I also posted on Facebook tonight.

This is how it ends, mes amis.

That’s all that he’s got, and that’s just fine.

Now, these are some goods shot of CV.

You have to protect your skin and your eyes.

This is where and when the published pictures will stop.

The rest of the pictures from this day will, for political reasons, not be published here.

Thanks for the memories and the information and the warmth, Peartree. I wish you a happy and prosperous retirement.


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