Chicago, October 2, 1971
Forty three years ago this morning, I boarded a United Airlines B727-22 (N7081U) at Toronto International for my first extended solo trip — and first flight on an aircraft — all bankrolled by the earnings from a summer job at the post office. I'd given serious consideration to traveling to England before deciding on ten days in Chicago. I booked into the O'Hare Holiday Inn, just yards from the Milwaukee Road Manheim commuter stop, a shelter at the bottom end of Bensenville Yard. Over the next week-and-a-half, I rode the cabs of Milwaukee Road H16-44s, visited towers (from Union on the Burlington, to State Line in Hammond); rode commuter trains, passenger trains, and freights, vintage CTA Flxibles and L trains, and burned through a brick of Kodachrome. All heady stuff for a 16 year old.
Minutes after checking into the hotel, I was standing on the Manheim Road bridge overlooking Bensenville Yard. According to my notes, there were no less than five working Milwaukee Road FMs in sight from my vantage point.
Suitably enough, the first frame of Kodachrome exposed on the trip includes one of them: H10-44 No. 780 switching in the company of caboose 02173. In the distance, an Erie Lackawanna transfer in the charge of a pair of U25Bs awaits its turn to enter the yard.
Sherman, set the WABAC machine to October 2, 1971. I'll be right there.