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[This article was published in the November 2003 issue of the Bull Sheet]

A Big Welcome (to me) at Willow Grove!

By Allen Brougham

Snyder's Willow Grove Restaurant is a well known eatery located just a short distance from the Patapsco River which separates Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, not far from the CSXT (x-B&O) mainline near Halethorpe. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s I frequented the place - often accompanied by friends or fellow workers - following a shift at HX Tower. It's also a spot replete with banquet facilities and a popular gathering spot for group social events. And it was for just such a gathering that I made my way one Wednesday several weeks ago - not as a member, but as a guest. Indeed, I had been asked to be their speaker!

The occasion was the monthly meeting of the RABO Club. RABO - which stands for Retired Administrators of the B&O - is a very active group of retired folks who had served the railroad in management functions such as general manager, vice president, etc. There are even some retired presidents with their names on the roster. To be sure, it's a very distinguished group.

The RABO Club publishes a newsletter, too, and it has been my privilege over the past several years to be an exchange copy recipient - their newsletter to me in exchange for a Bull Sheet to them. In fact, with their permission, I have published a number of articles in the Bull Sheet that had originally appeared in their newsletter. They in turn have published some articles that were in the Bull Sheet. It's neat how that works!

Anyway, sometime last spring, I got a call from Larry Townsend, the club's president. (Interestingly, I had known Larry from years ago - before I even started on the railroad - as a fellow passenger on a commuter bus we rode into Baltimore. He called me because of my involvement with the Bull Sheet, however, and only after I refreshed his memory of being a fellow bus rider did the connection fall into place.)

Larry wanted me to come to one of the RABO meetings and be their after lunch speaker. I'd get a free lunch for my efforts, he said, plus the thrill of meeting up with some of the bosses I may or may not have known when I was on the railroad. After a little arm-twisting, I agreed. I could talk about the Bull Sheet, he said, or perhaps Rails to Trails.

But the topic I chose was... the American Flag.

With butterflies in my tummy and the apprehension of having to fit all of my material into a 25-minute talk, I arrived at the restaurant before the appointed time. Then, just as I parked my car, I saw it - directly in front of me... for all the world to see... my name on the restaurant's welcome sign!

(I just HAD to get a picture of THAT!)...

About 70 members attended the meeting. I would say about a dozen of them I knew before I joined the after-life. Following lunch (Crab Cake) and Larry's introduction, I thought I was ready to begin... but I couldn't find my notes! (I could have died a thousand deaths, but then I found them, right there on the podium where I had put them in the first place!)

While the talk was about the American flag, I couldn't resist showing the members the photos I had taken for the Bull Sheet of the incorrect display of the Maryland state flag at the Dorsey train station back in 1996. (Remember that?)

The group was very cordial... They laughed at all my jokes... Only a couple of members nodded off before I was done... I didn't have to die a thousand deaths...

And my name was still on the welcome sign when I left.