My Friend Lloyd Kimble

As I recall, Lloyd's first assignment was Dyer, which he called "Dyerrhea.”

I didn't meet Lloyd until relatively late in his life; I would guess he was around 60 or so. At the time, he was still third-trick operator at Bedford, and handled both CSX and SOO/MILW work. I think he was #2 or #3 on the division seniority board for his job classification, with something right around 40 years of service. I asked him once why he didn't bid for a day job (especially given that he had problems with his eyes that made night driving troublesome) - he liked working nights, and any of the jobs that he could have gotten on first trick would have required him to move.

He had some fairly frequent visitors at the Bedford depot (including me, during 1989-90) up in the night (yes, I know that's technically non-regulation, but as he said, his supervisor didn't come around much in the middle of the night). Another odd sort of 'community service' was that the Bedford depot, on his watch, was a 'safe place' for some number of kids who might otherwise have gotten into bigger trouble in the middle of the night. I have no idea how it got started, but there were several kids, mostly boys, over the years who came in there just to have someone to talk to. I always thought the social services and police in Bedford should have given him some kind of award.

He was one of these guys who seemed to absorb just about everything that went on around him - and a true gentleman in almost every sense of the word. His knowledge of the Monon, especially the south end, was encyclopedic, but as I've said before, he was also a realist - always said, "This isn't the Monon any more, and it will never be the Monon again."

Visiting him at his home in Campbellsburg was always an experience - the walls were lined with books on every subject from firefighting (he was a volunteer fireman at Campbellsburg for a long time) to philosophy to, of course, railroading. I still remember a great Saturday afternoon where we played "Where am I?" with a whole tray full of slides that were mostly taken by Tom Smart, although a few were his own. Best I can remember, he didn't use a written index of the pictures (although I imagine he had one) but knew the story behind just about every one from memory.

He also had an extensive HO layout in his attic - not fully scenicked by any means, but with good-quality track and a great collection of Monon models - that's where I saw the 'fantasy' Monon Royal Red and gray F40PH's. I think he had a couple of GP38's done up in black and gold, too.

Lloyd passed away in 1994 and I still miss him. He said it was a bit of a family tradition to let prostate cancer get enough of a head start that it was inoperable. I last spoke to him about a week before his death; I had been agonizing for a couple of weeks how to talk to someone on the phone for what we both knew would be the last time, and finally did it.

My free advice   to anyone in this position: Don't wait. Make the call, or make the visit to your friend at home or in the hospital. You usually don't get a second chance.

- Mark Johnson -


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