A Funny Thing Happened on My Way Home.....

On my drive back home from the June 2002 WHS Sensational Sixties reunion I stopped in Clifton Forge, Virginia, to appease an intense craving for a Dairy Queen chocolate milkshake.  While awaiting preparation of my shake (AND, ok I'll admit it, I had to have a chili dog too), I meandered around the premises and noted some black & white framed photos on the wall.  I didn't notice until I recognized one of the women in the picture and read the caption that the one below is of our very own Linkous Park.

This was taken in 1958 by O. Winston Link.  Mr. Link was actually on a commercial photo job in Staunton, Virginia, but he loved the steam engine trains so in his free time, he took night shots of the trains of  the Norfolk & Western, one of America's last totally steam railroads.

This one is captioned with the following:
Trackside swimming pool Welch, bustling county seat of "The Free State of McDowell."  Anne Barnes, Nilda Ramella and Vesta Kitchen (all WHS '57--my note) flirt with Winston Links' nephew, Corky Zider.

07/28/02 update:  Woody Hall has identified the persons in the pool:  forward swimming is Pam Hall, followed by Judy Christian and the kid at the rope is Lois Hurt.  Sitting on the bench is Andy Grubb, Bobby Grubb and Charlie Bowers.   (Woody has his own copy of this book which gives a much clearer vision of the other people in this picture.)  01/05/03 update: Charlie Bowers emailed to let me know he is the third boy sitting on the bench.  He originally saw this photo in an art shop in Florida.

On another wall, I found the following:

At the Iaeger Drive-In Theater Willie Allen and Dorothy Christian appear impervious to "Hot Shot" merchandise on the move.  An A-Class engine like the eastbound 1242 was not usually operated over the Pocahontas Division, but when Time Freights 77-78 were inaugurated to run at near-passenger train speeds in 1955, they were assigned to the swift runs."

More information about Mr. Link's art is available HERE

The manager of this Dairy Queen got so caught up in my excitement over this find, she gave me permission to take these pictures.  Despite her efforts to assist me with the lighting there is a bit of glare on each one of them, but I think you'll get the idea and appreciate them as much as I do.  I understand the owner of this Dairy Queen has a full set of O. Winston Link's train photos somewhere in Covington, Virginia.

What an exciting end to my wonderful reunion weekend!  I found a beautiful book in my local library featuring these same pictures and some background information about Mr. Link's ventures into southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia during the late 50s.  It is called "America's Last Railroad: Steam Steel Stars" with text by Tim Hensley.  I think some of you might enjoy browsing through the book and looking at many of the other moods of the era  Mr. Link managed to capture with his camera.  And if anybody asks, I want that book for Christmas!!

P.S.  Since posting these pictures, I've learned that O. Winston Link played the train engineer in the rail-stealing scene of the movie, "October Sky."

Donnie Collins Skuja
Welch High School 1961

Reunion Photos
WHS Alumni Web Site