K. J. TOMASEVICH

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K. J. TOMASEVICH

Postby shlustig » Sat Jul 26, 2014 12:04 pm

Kennerth J. Tomasevich passed away this last week.

He was a 50-year veteran of the NYC, PC, and Conrail during which he was Div. Supt. at several locations including Rochester and Philadelphia, Gen. Supt. on the Metropolitan Region and Northeastern Region, and General Manager on the Indiana Harbor Belt.
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Re: K. J. TOMASEVICH

Postby Noel Weaver » Sun Jul 27, 2014 12:16 am

Sorry to hear of this but I never met this individual. I recall hearing his voice on the radio a few different times. SHL next year in February Dick Hassleman will again host a gathering of retired railroaders from Conrail, officials and troops. I went this year at Punta Gorda which is a little north of Fort Meyers. If you want to escape the cold for a few days in February this might be something to think about. I saw a good number of folks who I worked with over a long period of time in Selkirk and elsewhere. Good memories, I am glad I went. It is held in February at Punta Gorda every year.
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Re: K. J. TOMASEVICH

Postby Zeke » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:56 pm

Mr. Tomasevich was from the old school of fire breathing supers. To the non railroaders' a division superintendent had the ultimate power over a division. They were feared and respected by their employees and were the last word in deciding what was best in all matters. I would liken their position as a one star general in the army. An employee might go years before they saw the super or if one got in trouble or were involved in a derailment you would definitely meet him and he would definitely not be in good humor. Which leads to one of my Uncle Lou's favorite war stories. Christmas eve 1971 found him running the last train of the night out of Penn Station NY terminating in County yard New Brunswick around 230 am.

While yarding on 2 MU he noticed a well dressed gentleman sleeping in the coach and figured someone forgot to get off at the Jersey ave station. After cutting out he walked back to the man and just as he was going to roust him the conductor appeared and frantically but silently waved him off. It was New Jersey division Superintendent K.J. Tomasevich. Apparently someone had horsed him into going to a Christmas party and he was now totally under weather. He was living in Highland park at that time so the conductor ran off to telephone his wife and arrange for her to pick him up. Uncle Lou was now assigned to monitor KJT until his wife arrived. The super eyed up Uncle Lou and asked him his name where was he working but drifted in and out of it. The wife arrived they helped KJT to the car the wife thanked them profusely and that was it. The conductor and Uncle Lou never told a soul about the encounter and about a month later Uncle Lou was running a mid day clocker out of New York when Mr. Tomasevich swung up the ladder of the GG-1. He was attending a meeting in Philly and rode to Newark on the engine. Uncle Lou said they had a few laughs and Mr. Tomasevich pulled a business card out his wallet. He stuck it in Uncle Lou's top pocket and told him if he ever needed anything to call him on his personal line and he would be glad to help him. Uncle Lou told me he backed off an over zealous Philly trainmaster in 30th street station one night with the business card. He said the trainmaster turned white as a sheet when Uncle Lou waved the card around and threatened to make a call. Mr. Tomasevich according to my uncle was a " first class gentleman." I believe he moved on up the ladder a year or two later and was replaced by GTD George T. Daley.
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Re: K. J. TOMASEVICH

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:51 am

Zeke wrote:Mr. Tomasevich was from the old school of fire breathing supers. To the non railroaders' a division superintendent had the ultimate power over a division. They were feared and respected by their employees and were the last word in deciding what was best in all matters. I would liken their position as a one star general in the army. An employee might go years before they saw the super or if one got in trouble or were involved in a derailment you would definitely meet him and he would definitely not be in good humor. Which leads to one of my Uncle Lou's favorite war stories. Christmas eve 1971 found him running the last train of the night out of Penn Station NY terminating in County yard New Brunswick around 230 am.

While yarding on 2 MU he noticed a well dressed gentleman sleeping in the coach and figured someone forgot to get off at the Jersey ave station. After cutting out he walked back to the man and just as he was going to roust him the conductor appeared and frantically but silently waved him off. It was New Jersey division Superintendent K.J. Tomasevich. Apparently someone had horsed him into going to a Christmas party and he was now totally under weather. He was living in Highland park at that time so the conductor ran off to telephone his wife and arrange for her to pick him up. Uncle Lou was now assigned to monitor KJT until his wife arrived. The super eyed up Uncle Lou and asked him his name where was he working but drifted in and out of it. The wife arrived they helped KJT to the car the wife thanked them profusely and that was it. The conductor and Uncle Lou never told a soul about the encounter and about a month later Uncle Lou was running a mid day clocker out of New York when Mr. Tomasevich swung up the ladder of the GG-1. He was attending a meeting in Philly and rode to Newark on the engine. Uncle Lou said they had a few laughs and Mr. Tomasevich pulled a business card out his wallet. He stuck it in Uncle Lou's top pocket and told him if he ever needed anything to call him on his personal line and he would be glad to help him. Uncle Lou told me he backed off an over zealous Philly trainmaster in 30th street station one night with the business card. He said the trainmaster turned white as a sheet when Uncle Lou waved the card around and threatened to make a call. Mr. Tomasevich according to my uncle was a " first class gentleman." I believe he moved on up the ladder a year or two later and was replaced by GTD George T. Daley.


This was very interesting reading. One group of employees probably in many cases got to meet the Division Superintendent and that would be firemen being promoted to engineers, at least that was the case on the New Haven and it went on to the New Haven portion at least of the Penn Central. When I got set up to engineer in early 1970 both the Division Superintendent and the Transportation Superintendent (J. F. Spreng and D. A. Fink) gave us a really good pep talk with lots of language added for effect. I got to know Mr. Spreng over the years and found him a very interesting person to talk to, he used to ride my train from Stamford to New York every morning and he loved running the train and did a good job at it too. I always thought he respected me and I respected him. He was a very good railroader.
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Re: K. J. TOMASEVICH

Postby Zeke » Sat Aug 30, 2014 4:27 am

Noel,on the Penn side we were turned loose by the road foreman as the super was a distant figure sort of god like. One old fire breather I knew fairly well was Donald A.Swanson who eventually wound up Vice President of Operations on Conrail. I first met him when he was night Trainmaster at Waverly yard Newark NJ around December of 1970. I was a newly minted fireboy firing a runner out of Waverly 4 yard office. I was signing up early around 10:30pm when I heard shouting, cursing, scuffling and furniture turning over. The Yardmasters office door flew open and the yardmaster flew out and crashed into a heap on the floor. Mr. Swanson picked him up and shoved him back into the office looked over at me and said," He's drunk" and slammed the door shut. When the engineer showed up and we got on the engine, I told the him what I witnessed, he laughed and said,"Yeah them two don't get along much."

Working the runner I got to talk to Don from time to time but he was moved up pretty fast. I later heard he was being punished by higher ups who forced him onto the night trainmasters job as penance for some transgression. He was not a bad guy if he knew you but woe to them that crossed him. Around 1977 or so he was appointed Conrail Atlantic Region General Superintendent, a very big job.One night he was down at the South Kearny piggyback yard. My conductor Rosie McCoy saw him and waved him over, as they were acquainted, he saw me and to my amazement called me by name. I was in awe of him sort of being a young fellow and we all got to talking as he was asking if this guy was retired or was that guy still working in Waverly when Rosie mentioned one brakeman who had been dismissed/fired for Rule G. For the non railroaders, it means found drunk while on duty. I knew the story. The guy had been out for a year. Mr. Swanson asked Rosie if was he in touch with him, to which Rosie replied,yes. Mr. Swanson then said," Tell him to call the Crew Dispatcher and mark up as per D.A.Swanson." I inadvertently blurted out a,"you can do that?" to which he replied with a scowl and raised voice,"Hey kid this is.... MY railroad you got it ....MY railroad !" Oh yeah.
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Re: K. J. TOMASEVICH

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Aug 30, 2014 10:58 pm

This kind of reminds me of a official on the New Haven way back when. MR C. D. Kelly whom I think retired as an Assistant Superintendent. He had a bad reputation among the troops and believed in the rules and the necessity of following them. I think in earlier days he was based in Bridgeport but in his later days he was based in New Haven but could be found all over the west end of the railroad. During my firing days I stayed in New York for days at a time but still lived in Waterbury with my folks and from time to time I would take a ride home to visit them. I had my car in New Haven at that time and one evening I took train 86 which left Grand Central Terminal right around 6:00 PM and was a very heavy train for Springfield. It was a good train to deadhead on as it only made 125th Street and Stamford enroute to New Haven. This night we had a "JET" (370 class motor) and these motors while good were not at all dependable and you could have all kinds of trouble with them on the road. I would ride the head end of the first car eastbound out of New York as it was the least crowded and I would be more comfortable. We made it as far as the changeover at South Mount Vernon where we just stopped and sat with a dead motor. I knew who the crew was and offered to help. Short story I went up and got the motor going. Unbeknown to me Mr. Kelly was also riding this train and of course he wanted to know who the hell I was. I showed him my pass and it was as nice as could be and I got a nice letter of recognition from the railroad for this action. I still have the letter today. Oh it helped me too bacause my folks were planning on a late supper with me when I finally got to Waterbury and we were only a couple of minutes late into New Haven. I never had any trouble with him before or especially after that night. Yes, railroading was quite an adventure back in those days.
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Re: K. J. TOMASEVICH

Postby BR&P » Fri Oct 03, 2014 5:27 pm

Those old supers were something! Since we're telling war stories, I heard this one about Ernie Cross, on the New England Division. It seems Cross had been after a given official - I believe it was a RFE but may have been a TM - to ride with the crews more often. The guy was bogged down with other work and seldom got the chance. One day Cross blew up, and ordered the B&B dep't to nail up a large sheet of heavy plywood, completely covering the door to the guy's office. The man got the message, and spent the next month riding every crew he could find. The kicker was that on his desk was a large stack of timeslips which had been submitted by the train crews. Now as you guys who have worked there know, it was common for a crew to put in a timeslip for any possible thing they could think of, warranted or not. By union rules, if it was not denied within 30 days, it HAD to be paid. So that huge stack of timeslips sat there until it "outlawed", and the guys got a little something extra the next paycheck!

Another legend was Andy Conklin on the Buffalo Division. I never met the man one on one, but knew who he was from a few meetings and by reputation. You know the saying ch!t flows downhill, and he was a terror when angry. Sometimes the target was Frank Marshall, the Rochester terminal super. I would be sitting at the YM desk and the phone would ring. When I answered, a voice barked "WHERE'S MARSHALL?" I replied he was not in yet. "HAVE HIM CALL ME!". click. No name, no title. But I sure knew who it was! :-D

Those days were something never to be seen again in today's railroading!
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Re: K. J. TOMASEVICH

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:03 am

I never knew E. C. Cross but I felt I did. Let me explain. In June, 1972 I was on the spare board at Oak Point and was called to pilot the engineer on the Selkirk Job that ran via Danbury. This entailed a trip on this train from Oak Point to Beacon and then deadhead back to Oak Point via a Hudson Line passenger train. It was a very good job and I covered it many different times. The night before I had stomach problems mainly a pain but we have all had them and on the day I covered this job it was gone. We got out of Oak Point good and I made it all the way to the top of the mountain at Holmes then the pain set back in really hard. We called the dispatcher on the radio and I needed to be relieved and gotten some medical attention which happened at Hopewell Junction. Bert Bacon was assigned there as a Road Foreman of Engines because of the various problems these trains were have getting over the road. We had a mutual friend on the local police force in Beacon who stepped in and between them they got me to the emergency room in the local hospital in Beacon where it was found that my appendix had ruptured and I was scheduled for immediate emergency surgery that night. I spent two weeks in that hospital due to complications but Ernie Cross called Bert Bacon more than once to see how I was doing. This was certainly above and beyond the call of the division superintendent and I never forget it. We had some great folks around the railroad back then too.
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Re: K. J. TOMASEVICH

Postby Jim Kaufman » Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:38 pm

I worked the B & A back in the early 70's right up to 4/1/76 when Conrail took over from PCRR. I worked mainly out of the Junction (Pittsfield, MA), but covered road jobs out of Selkirk on many occasions (it helped that the crew disps knew I lived in Albany, so I could cover assignments in Selkirk easily, in addition to being assigned to the Junction "Spare Board").
My memories of Ernie Cross are never far from my mind...he was a legend that was passed down from the crews I worked with, and I inturn passed down to the younger guys who followed me. The message being two things: don't get on ECC's bad side, he will not forget, might not get you "now", but he will "get you"!; get OUT OF SERVICE Insurance as soon as you mark up on the B &A (especially if you planned on working there for a while). Best thing about the Insurance was if Enie knew you had it, he rarely would take you OUT OF SERVICE. Why? He felt if you had the insurance, and it paid out, you were not being Punished! Getting paid to stay home? That was not in his play book!
When I became the UTU LC out of the Junction, I had more dealings with ECC's assistants (John Falvey, Frank Hatch, Art Fox, Eddie Lawerence, etc), but I knew I was really dealing with Mr. Cross...expecially at investigations and monthly visists with Frank Stipak (in the Sweeney Building in Springfield) on Labor Relation matters.
Ernie Cross was the Superintendent on the B & A (and in PC/CR the entire New England area) from the NYC to Conrail---he knew his job, his railroad and his workers (and where the "Corporate bodies" were buried!) to last in power as long as he did. He really was a "one man show" in his prime!
One example stands out: his train was BC-1, one of the hottest trains between Boston and Chicago (Streater, Ill to the Santa Fe), nothing was dispatched from Boston or Springfield two hours ahead of "Beer Can One" (as we called it) and a Pusher was waiting to assist BC-1 up the mountain at Chester (though if the Beaneater engineer asked for a "push", he would get a call in Selkirk from ECC questioning his running ability!). When Amtak 449 was put back on in Nov 75, BC-1 would run ahead of #449 out of Springfield! Nothing was going to delay BC-1!
I've got more stories of ECC, but they can wait...
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