April 2012 President’s Report

            As you read this issue of The Railyard Local, the election ballots will have been counted and tallied, the Board of Directors will have convened with a new year to execute, and we will have recognized some outstanding volunteers with certificates and awards. In 1995 five volunteers were presented the Gandy Dancer Award. Fast forward to 2011 and the Gandy Dancer was re-implemented and presented to two additional volunteers.

            What, you may ask, is a Gandy Dancer? Generally, Gandy Dancer is a slang term used for early railroad workers who worked laying and maintaining track by hand. It is thought, however, that the term referred to “track examiners” as opposed to actual workers. “Workers” win out as accepted. A “gandy” was probably the name given to a five-foot long bar (lining bar) which was used as a lever to keep track in alignment. Other theories suggest that the motion of track workers lunging against their tools in unison, carried rail, or waddled like ganders (ducks) while running along the railroad ties. A 1918 newspaper article posed that a “gandy dancer was a railway worker who tamps the earth between the ties, or otherwise “dances” along the track. Many stories of singing and chants while workers toiled gave credence to the ideas that the “dance” accompanied the “music”. WIKIPEDIA presents eight pages of theories and stories as to who, what, when the “gandy dancer” story spread, changed and survived. You can accept the most plausible for you.

            The Danbury Railway Museum has applied the nomenclature of GANDY DANCER to an individual that volunteers their services within the Museum. The Gandy Dancer award was originally given to five volunteers who had given much time, dedication, and extraordinary commitment to affect a successful Museum progression. Sadly, many deserving volunteers that continued their commitment and exemplary work ethic went unrecognized. In 2011 we realized it was time to “catch up” and again recognized two deserving DRM members. A review of past recipients of our Gandy Dancer award will indicate a pattern and now a quality of the award candidates. In general, they are multi-talented, work on many projects, assume multiple responsibilities, have continued this commitment for many years, are mentors for new members, and examples to prospective volunteers.

            On March 14, 2012 we will have gratefully recognized five Danbury Railway Museum members/volunteers: William Britt, S-gauge modeler, former Director and Vice-President, RPO project leader, Tonawanda Valley project leader, and longtime member; Steven Gould, Secretary to the Board, communicator, out-reach representative, presenter, tour guide chairman, event committee, long-time member, etc.: Stan Madyda, Assistant Librarian, Vice-President and Board member, responsible for many of our accessions, presentations, liaison, and almost a charter member; Patricia “Patty” Osmer, Treasurer and Board member, Gift Shop manager and purchasing agent, advertising manager, events chair, “Big E” and train shows, and long-time member; David Roberts, New York Central caboose, mailman, banker, “elf”, “Santa’s helper”, carpenter, landscaper, “gopher”, idea man, and, generally, if something needs to be done, Dave will help do it! There are other deserving people who parallel the efforts and dedication of the above recipients. On behalf of the newly elected Board of Directors, thank you in advance for your continued efforts, support, and volunteerism.

            On behalf of the Danbury Railway Museum, Wade W. Roese