Winston Link stopped near me

Your wonderful article about photographer O. Winston Link [January 8 cover story: "Linked up: museum adds sparkle to star city"] reminded me of a chance encounter I had with the man.

I live in Nelson County beside the Norfolk Southern mainline. Near my house, the tracks go from double to single, so southbound trains must wait for north-bounds to get off the single track before proceeding. One day in June of 1997, a southbound passenger Special pulled up and stopped, waiting for a northbound freight. As the editor of the local National Railway Historical Society newsletter at that time, I grabbed my camera and headed trackside.

Chatting with the engine crew, I learned that the Special was carrying "some old photographer and his friends." I asked if by any chance his name was Link.

"That's him," they said. That had me hot-footing to the rear car shouting to the occupants on the open platform, "Where's Mr. Link?"

Someone pointed to a side window, and there sat the man, peering out at me. I repeatedly mouthed, "I love your photographs." Somebody then went back into the car and helped him out to the open platform where I continued shouting messages of praise and adoration, all the while shooting pictures of him. Someone on board asked why I was taking pictures, and I explained my editorship. I thought I heard one of the folks say he was editor of the Roanoke National Railway Historical Society.

Then the northbound freight sped by, the signal snapped to green, and the Special sailed off– all of us waving, including my wife who had arrived at the last moment looking thoroughly disheveled after horseback riding.

I sent a copy of my write-up to the Roanoke editor who showed it to Tom Garver, the museum curator, who had been present on the platform. He sent me a letter saying that Link would like copies of the photos I took and I would hear from him. Sure enough, I soon received a letter from Link, along with a generous check for the photos. I only charged him for the copies and sent the remainder of the money back to him with the explanation that I would have done it for free except I wanted to be able to tell people that he had bought photos from me!

By the way, I can see how he got in trouble with women. In his letter, he wanted to know who was the good-looking woman standing trackside with me, and could he have a picture of her. He was just a man with an eye for the ladies, but with very bad judgment, I guess.

Finally, kudos to whoever put together the cover montage. It's a beauty.

Nicholas Page

 The cover montage was the work of our talented art director, Chris Conklin.–editor