You may have read about...or heard me speak about.... rescuing the 819. It's the Steam Engine
that for too many years, sat abandoned in Pine Bluff's Oakland Park.....where it was vandalized, stripped of its dignity, and---like a once-proud race horse--- was " put-out-to-pasture" and, over time, forgotten. To me....THIS elegant and
one-of-a-kind Steam Engine represented my Father, my Grandmother, and my Brother because...they worked for the Cotton Belt Railroad for all their lives.
The Steam Engine
signified all the goodness in my life-----including the Cotton Belt's gifts to me, as Miss Arkansas, 1958. One gift was a beautiful Lady Hamilton wrist-watch (paid for by Cotton Belt employees) and the other
gifts were from railroad executives who provided two private cars----one to escort me to the Miss America Pageant-----the other to return me home-----after the Pageant ended.
Most of all....the 819 Steam Engine was a monument to my hometown of Pine Bluff....and to the 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 to its original home in the Cotton Belt Shops....for restoration. As usual, many talked about the need to rescue the engine from the park
but....I saw the need and immediately took action! I took all the necessary steps 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 stand 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
Shortly after the 819 made its successful journey "back home" to the Cotton Belt Shoppes where it was built in the early forties ....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 my hometown newspaper
which stated, officially: "Sally Miller, alone,was the person responsible for rescuing the 819 from Oakland Park". That letter means the world to me. Documentation is vital to my life, to my writing. For me, its not about praise, or ego, or self-importance....it's
about THE TRUTH.
"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! WOOOOOO-------WOOOOOO000000000000000000!"