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Garden Club Banquet Photos, 1980-1982:
BLE Division 161 (Southern Pacific Coast District)

The below four photos depicting Division 161 Garden Club banquets come courtesy of retired SP/Amtrak Engineer Greg Welker, who supplied scans of his originals, copies of which appeared in various issues of the BLE newsletter in 1980-82. Over the years, Greg misplaced the caption information, but the good offices of the BLE in Cleveland recently researched newsletter back issues and supplied Greg with the missing info. Many of these gentlemen also appear in History San Jose's Ernie Kiesel Collection of Southern Pacific Photographs. Greg has had these photos posted on Flickr for some time, but for some reason, I could never get links to them from Wx4 to work. Thus, Greg has assented to their posting here.

The Garden Club

Dating to at least the 1930's, but likely earlier, Southern Pacific Coast Division (Later, District) engineers who worked jobs out of San Francisco and San Jose had a club ostensibly formed, it is assumed, to maintain the Mission Bay Gardens, which filled a small lot next to San Francisco's Mission Bay Roundhouse. This loosley organized association also charged itself with raising funds for mutually beneficial and charitable projects. Every year it hosted a banquet in Sunnyvale (exact location, forgotten) which honored pensioners and likewise recognized working engineers with a formal distribution of BLE years-of-membership pins, which was the job of long time secretary-treasurer Welker (for more than two decades, a familiar engineers' spring refrain was, "Hey Welker, where's the BLE pins?").

Fundamentally, the Garden Club was an informal association of senior engineers, fellows who had known and worked with each other for three, four or even in a few cases, five decades. They ran the show at Division 161, as Garden Club "members" also largely comprised the officers of Division 161.

Though Mission Bay Roundhouse and its Garden were two decades in the past by the times of the photos, the Garden Club remained, and continued on under the auspices of newly-created Division 65 even after Amtrak began operating the Peninsula Commute Service in 1992. It finally began to fade away with the wave of ex-SP engineer retirements that began in earnest after 2000. I'm not sure if it exists in any form in the new Caltrain / Herzog era.

In the first photo, you shall notice an exception to the old-man-rule at dead center in the top row - a comparative kid with a mustache and shaggy hair. That's Greg Welker, who at the time of the 1980 photo had less than ten years with SP. His status exceeded his seniority simply because he had taken that aforementioned secretary-treasurer job, a thankless one that nobody with whiskers wanted. Greg's relentless attention to detail in all things made him a natural for the position, one that he came to hold until the turn of the century, first for Division 161, and later Amtrak San Francisco / San Jose Division 65. Thanks for the photos and all of those years keeping the division straight, Greg! - E.O.

(click on the photos for enlarged versions)

May 4, 1980

Working Engineers:
Back Row L-R: A. N. Blasdel, G. B. Surdez, A. M. Miller, G. E. Welker, J. A. Warnick, E. J. Meiswinkel.
Middle Row L-R: E. J. Corbin, M. O. Langworthy, S. P. Oliveri, H. T. Hambaugh, R. H. Hamann, E. C. Sturken.
Seated L-R: S. J. Bailey, C. F. Sturni, V. Allen, E. J. Sullivan, G. G. Roehm, W. J. Potthoff

Retired Engineers:
Back Row L-R: F. E. Viscount, R. K. Kennedy, F. L. Hinman, V. W. Walint, H. K. Johnson, E. P. Prunk.
Middle Row L-R: E. V. Miramon, S. P. Neeley, C. B. Chamberlain, E. L. Bingham, A. W. Grassel, J. J. Clark, G. B. Surdez.
Front Row Seated L-R: A. A. Rossi, Ernie Kiesel, M. A. Sousa, G. A. Karmann, J. H. Gilkey, C. A. Maddux, A. E. White.

May 3, 1981

Retired Engineers:
Back Row L-R: C. W. Buck, J. V DiSalvo, T. Seghieri, E. J. Shaylor
Seated L-R: G. B. Surdez, A. H. Mohr, R. E. Buckley, W. L. Lindley

May 1, 1982

Retired Engineers:
Standing L-R: C. F. Sturni, E. C. Seiverson, V. W. Walint, F. Johansen, G. E. Barker, R. H. Hamann, E. J. Corbin, E. P. Prunk, J. J. Clark, J. W. Aven
Seated L-R: W. A. Swanson, C. A. Maddux, F. W. Jett, E. R. Kiesel, A. A. Rossi, R. K. Kennedy