The Future is Still Silver and Black: 1973

December 1972

Dear Silver Pilot,

I’m glad that you wrote again despite not receiving a reply. I know what that’s like and I’m sorry you were left waiting. That letter would simply have said that I was happy for you to be running again and that you were going to be a big hit for your Members Day. It’s for the best perhaps. That message might have been disappointing after such a setback.

A broken valve spring isn’t too bad though. It should be an easy enough fix and you’ll be pulling your train again soon.

In the meantime, being a static display isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s not as good as taking visitors for a proper ride, but they get to spend more time with you when you don’t have anywhere else to be. Here at the MSI, they can tour my coaches and look at us more closely. If they were still able to eat their lunch in Ceres, maybe they could let visitors tour the rest of your coaches too? Sometimes people even squat down to look at our trucks and get up close to our wheels. They couldn’t do that if we were moving. It’d be too dangerous. Being static lets them admire you in ways they can’t otherwise.

Being stationary can be good that way. It’s a lot like when I was new and we went on tour to let people inspect us before we went into regular service. If you spend a good long while looking over a train, you’re likely to remember him!

I’m sure your volunteers are eager to get you repaired though. You’re so close to being operational and they’ve put so much work in already, they’d be foolish to put it off any further. I’m sure they won’t keep you in suspense like I did.

Your friend,

Pioneer Zephyr

Next Stop… 1973!

Once, and Then, No More

2903 wasn’t sure what possessed him to accompany U-505 up to the roof. On any other night, he would have suspected a trick or trap of some sort. Not that he thought U-505 would actually do anything to him – no one wanted to make trouble for the museum – but there was no reason why U-505 should want to invite him to the roof and it would be foolish not to be wary around an enemy.

He didn’t think U-505 would have asked on any other night though.

Today had been one of U-505’s reunions. Crewmen from the American ships who had captured him would get together and visit him about once every ten years. These events had always been a matter of malcontent for U-505 and he’d be more terse and cutting than usual in the days leading up to them. 2903 had to admit though that U-505 remained professional and would be a good, albeit stoic, sport while their veteran seamen were there. It helped that Pioneer and 999 would turn on their practiced charm and run interference whenever the men would say something tactless or to divert the topic when U-505 chanced to ask what news there was of the ships who had captured him. The ships never attended these parties and he’d stopped asking after them two reunions ago. When the men would leave, U-505 would wait out the rest of the day’s work, then make himself scarce to brood about having to play nice with Admiral Gallery and his rapidly aging crewmen.

This reunion, however, was the first time U-505’s own crew had attended as well.

The Future is Still Silver and Black: 1972

February 1972

Dear 9952-A,

May I call you Silver Pilot? I think numbers are a little impersonal when you have a name.

The docents here at the Museum of Science and Industry suggested that I might like to write to you. They think I get bored out here on the lawn. Conversation with the U-boat still leaves something to be desired and it can be too loud to talk to the steam engines during the day since they’re set so far away.

Congratulations on your acceptance to the Illinois Railway Museum. And to pull the Nebraska Zephyr no less! That’s a magnificent train. (Don’t tell my cars I said that though, haha!) I was very happy to hear that another of us has been returned to service.

And it is service, have no doubt. (more…)