A railroading life and lifelong connections!
It should come as no surprise to most that Port Jervis and neighboring communities have deep, lasting connections and memories of life on the railroad. The Tri-State region’s history is tied to transportation industries, such as Port’s railroading and canal histories, Trains, boats, trollies -- even horses and buggies -- helped build and shape our towns, villages, and communities over decades and across centuries.
It isn’t only physical rails, railroad cars, and equipment that comprise a railroad, however. It’s the conductors, engineers, track workers, clerks, crews, mechanics, electricians, and so many more. Railroaders!
This past weekend a group of such past railroad workers met for breakfast at Perkins, Matamoras, PA. The camaraderie was so strong, it seemed as if they still worked daily together. These and others meet monthly, and in a larger reunion annually. Some, like Butch and Kay Lemon, have shared nearly their entire lives linked to the railroad.
It was the rails that brought the Lemons together as a couple, in fact. It’s a way of life that included other generations in their family, as it has for many local families. The Lemons’ special railroading story, at least a small part of it, is being shared here.
“We met on a train. We were both heading home.”
“I was on a train home from secretarial school in Binghamton. Butch was ‘deadheading’ home with his crew from Deposit. The guys, of course, were all dressed in their regular railroad clothing,” Kay shared. “I guess I caught Butch’s eye, and we struck up a conversation. It was October of 1963.”
During this train ride home, Kay learned that Butch’s birthday was coming up in two more days. When she got home, she bought a card, looked up Lemon in the phone book, and mailed the card to him. She signed it “the blonde on the train.”
He called the next day, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Butch’s career remained with the railroad. He was a conductor.
Soon after that trip home, he told some of the guys, “I met a girl on the train. I found the girl I’m going to marry.” And he did.
The two met in October and were married seven months later, in May of 1964. The couple just celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary. They have two children, Karen and Craig, and live in Matamoras. They are both very active in the community, exceptionally patriotic, love the outdoors, and active with veterans, veteran events, and all veteran projects. Pretty much everyone knows the Lemons! They're everywhere!
It is worth noting that the couple’s family railroading history extends in many directions and over generations, three generations on Kay’s side of the family (the Bachelder side) and two generations on the Lemon side.
For the Lemons, and so many more in our community, railroading remains a big part of their lives and memories.
Pictured in a photo from the 1950s is Kay’s Uncle Harry Bachelder (back row, left), her father Doug Bachelder (directly in front of Harry, middle row), and a crew of fellow railroaders “back in those days”. Anyone know the others’ names?
Pictured on their May 16, 1964 Wedding Day -- Kay Bachelder Lemon and Francis “Butch” Lemon
Alphabetically listed are the 25 retirees who attended the June railroader get together group:
Bogach, Bill (engineer), Brennan, George (conductor), Brink, Gary (engineer), Card, Bob (foreman), Card, Tim (engineer), Collins, Ronnie (machine operator), Conklin, Bill, Dooley, Dan (foreman), Dunn, Hank (engineer), Fleming, Jeffrey J., Guipo, Ray (comm), Guinn, James, Horner, Jerry (trackman), Hunt, Chuck (engineer), Lemon, Butch (conductor), Mosher, Ed (engineer), Norrell, Joe (supervisor), Murray, Larry (signalman), Robinson, Joe (supervisor), Siegel, Stan (chief caller), Stalker, Dave, Stevenson, Wayne “Bones” (trackman), Stratton, Fred (engineer), Umnik, H.W. (trackman), White, Joseph