Speculation - Where was Dale Roberts 9/30/67

David Pressley

Hey All.....Johnny in particular,
Received the 2nd issue of Every Time With No Complaint yesterday morning but it had to wait until after the little one in our house got her Day Out With Thomas. (#190 is sounding fantastic this summer.....particularly with the heavy Thomas trains)
Anyway......managed to read the issue cover to cover after getting home and mowing the yard and on the back page Johhny wonders where Dale Roberts, who normally spent Saturdays railfanning the ET in those days, was on 9/30/67.
I don't know for certain but, having known Dale, my first guess was maybe he was getting married that weekend. I did a little research (Dale's wife Carolyn 'Belle' and my mother remain friends to this day) into that theory and learned, however, that Belle and Dale were married in September 1968........not 1967.
So that leaves us with my other theory - Was the Southern Railway 4501 doing an excursion anywhere within 8-10 hours driving of Asheville, NC the last weekend of September 1967? If so, I'm betting he was chasing that excursion.
Dale loved the 4501 (I once heard him speculate whether the phone company would let him have 282-4501 as his number) and at that time it had been in excursion service for only a year. The Johnson City trips to see 207/208 were 'local activity' when cash was tight for Dale whereas on a Saturday at the end of the month he would have just gotten paid and would have had extra cash to follow the 4501 anywhere......and trust me, Dale drove near and far tracking the 4501......and to a lesser extent the 630 and 722 when they appeared in fantrip service. I cannot keep count of the number of times Dale said to me that when you had the opportunity to see a Southern steam locomotive operating you went early and you stayed late. He would say "It's like visiting an elderly grandparent. You make every minute count because you never know if it's the last time you'll get to see them."
Bottom line - Dale was a good guy. I would have had an interest in trains regardless thanks to my grandfather taking me down to the Canton, NC yards to watch the afternoon freight switch wood chips. Dale took that interest and encouraged it with the gift of a few books and some trips in that VW of his to chase the 4501. Those were formative times and I was fortunate to be mentored by someone who knew so much.

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