Send to Guy

Not a day goes by without me thinking, ‘I should send this to Guy’. But alas, Guy is no longer with us, not for over a year now. Guy Darst was not only a good friend; his interests and opinions were similar enough to mine that I felt comfortable sharing articles from my daily Internet browsing. His reactions were usually terse, often pithy, but always welcome, and if he liked a comment of mine, he would say so. Guy himself was writer, long with the wire services and The Boston Herald, and after he retired from the Herald, still contributed two or three editorials a week. He was also a railfan; indeed, it was less than two years ago that I cajoled him onto the ‘Endless Excursion’, which I wrote up here.

Guy in Cab_sm

Guy in the cab of Cape Cod Central Railroad GP7 locomotive no. 1501 in September, 2007.  Engineer (then trainee) Amanda Regan is at the throttle.

Guy was a conservative, as am I; he was an avid reader and a great conversationalist, and over the years had accumulated a deep well of information and insights, which of course informed his editorial writing. He put up with my regular forwards, though he didn’t always agree with me, but I expect he liked them because they added to the cluttered cupboards of his encyclopedic mind. ‘Good grief!’ was his typical reaction to some particularly appalling (usually leftwing) misbehavior.

Rachelle Cohen at the Herald, whom Guy called ‘my boss’ (he had trained her at the AP years before), wrote a tender tribute when he died. She remembered,

. . . for nearly a decade he remained an imposing presence at editorial board meetings — and woe to the public official who played fast and loose with numbers. There was Guy, whipping out his pocket calculator just in case.

He was a marvel of civility at such events, but he did not suffer fools — or charlatans — easily. Those pitching a cause, a piece of legislation or their own candidacy had best be prepared to defend same with all the intellectual rigor of a Ph.D. dissertation.*

The Harvard Cooperative Society, known as ‘The Coop’, has long supplied members with little black appointment books. I abandoned mine in favor of an iPhone, but Guy always carried his, and every year updated the new one, with favorite quotes, numbers and formulae, in block print with different colors. He liked to cite this gem, from Robert A. Heinlein:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. (Time Enough for Love, 1973)

I’ll have to transcribe some more of his favorite quotes, and, really, I should write more about Guy Darst. But it occurred to me that I could use him as—he would appreciate this—a literary device. Well, not really ‘literary’. . .

“Who are you?” the minstrel asked.

“I am the Golux,” said the Golux, proudly, “the only Golux in the world, and not a mere Device.”

“You resemble one,” the minstrel said, “as Saralinda resembles the rose.”

“I resemble only half the things I say I don’t,” the Golux said. “The other half resemble me.” He sighed. “I must always be on hand when people are in peril.”

—as this weblog is, without the impetus of a deadline; as I am, without a willing recipient of missives. Did Guy know The Thirteen Clocks? He must have read Thurber. But whatever, he can be my Golux, and not a mere Device.

But where to begin? Well, there’s this sad item. . .

Send to Guy No. 1

The photo of Guy above is from a cab ride in a locomotive that Steve Bartlett, who was then running trains for the Cape Cod Central Railroad, arranged for Guy and me in 2007. The Cape Cod Central is a tourist railroad that runs its trains out to the Cape Cod Canal from Hyannnis, and back. They put a locomotive at each end of the train, as there is no way to turn the train around at the Canal (and no ‘push-pull’ equipment like the commuter lines use these days).** We rode out on no. 1201, an Alco RS-3m that had been repowered by Amtrak with an EMD 12-cylinder diesel engine, and back on no. 1501, an EMD GP-7, both from the early 1950s. The Alco was known affectionately as Lulubelle, and had a long history beginning with the New York Central in 1951. A cab ride in an old locomotive is a special treat for railfans like Guy and me.  Here’s Lulubelle (from an earlier trip):


CCCR 1201, ready to pull the Cape Cod Coastal Excursion train in August, 2007.


Well, when I thought about writing this post, I went looking online for the CCCR engine roster to confirm my recollections, and what did I find but this photo:


The last photo of Cape Cod Central 1201, 17Sep11. Copyright © Fred Pegnato; used by permission. (From NERAIL, the New England Rail Photo Archive.)

The legend under the photo reads,

Cape Cod Central 1201 has reached the end of the line.

That’s right.  Discussions on railroad forums report that 1201 needed new wheels, new radiators, and engine work.  Locomotives can be kept going almost indefinitely, given adequate repairs and rebuilds, but railroads like all businesses have to constantly undertake cost-benefit analyses.  Repairs are expensive; there were other locomotives (not Alcos) available from CCCR’s sister railroad, Mass Coastal; and apparently in 2011 metal prices were high.  So the CCCR decided to scrap it.

So Lulubelle is gone; RIP  (Rest in Pieces?).  But I won’t let Guy rest, not yet. I’ll keep sending him stuff.


* Rachelle Cohen’s brief remembrance has been archived by the Herald (i.e. available for a fee), HERE.

** Actually, there is a siding at the Canal, so if only one engine is available, they can run it around the train and couple it to the other end.  But it’s much quicker to just have the engineer walk back to a second engine and head home.

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