CLICKEDY-CLACK, CLICKEDY-CLACK....MOVING DOWN THE RAILROAD TRACK!
Yes, some dreams really do come true.
This is the 819 Steam Engine you hear me speak about so often; This is the Steam Engine that for too many years, sat abandoned in Pine Bluff's Oakland Park.....where it was vandalized, stripped of its dignity, put-out-to-pasture and forgotten, like a once-proud race horse. To me, it represented my Father, Locomotive Engineer---my Grandmother, Executive Secretary---and my Brother, Engine Maintenance Supervisor----and all the years they worked for the Cotton Belt Railroad.
The Steam Engine signified all the goodness in my life-----including the Cotton Belt's gifts to me, as Miss Arkansas. One was a beautiful Lady Hamilton wrist-watch (money donated by Cotton Belt employees) and gifts from Southern Pacific Railroad Executives that consisted of two private rail cars----THE FAIRLANE-- that escorted me to the Miss America Pageant and THE DIXIE-- that returned me home-----after the Pageant.
Most of all....the 819 Steam Engine was a monument to my hometown of Pine Bluff....and the Cotton Belt Railroad that provided the town's citizens with steady employment, medical insurance, and family security.
YES, I AM THE PERSON responsible for getting the 819 out of the Park and back- to its original home in the Cotton Belt Shops, for restoration. As usual, many people talked about rescuing the engine from the park but never did anything--but talk. I saw the need and took action! I took the steps necessary to activate the plan, the dream. This is a fact....not a fantasy or a boast...simply a fact.
WHY DOES IT MATTER? Because I take pride in knowing that my life and my efforts stood for something; that during my lifetime, I consistently worked to help others and to make dreams come true, not only for me---but for those who mattered----like my Father, R.B. Miller.
Shortly after the 819 made its successful journey "back home"--- the Southern Pacific Railroad--by way of their PR Director-- Jim Johnson--- handed me the ORIGINAL (1937) BLUE PRINTS FOR THE 819 STEAM ENGINE.
Jim Johnson also wrote a letter to the editor of Pine Bluff's Newspaper which, officially, stated: "Sally Miller was solely responsible for rescuing the 819 from Pine Bluff's Oakland Park and returning it back to The Cotton Belt Shops, for restoration". That letter means the world to me; documentation is vital to my life, to my writing. It’s not about praise, or ego, or self-importance--it's about THE TRUTH.
THIS is The Simple Little Train Song I wrote and taught to my special-needs students:
"Riding on a train, moving down the track, listening to the wheels going clickedy-clickedy-clack......and the whistle….I love to hear the whistle! The way he's leaning on the horn, I know the Engineer loves the whistle too!"