PAGE 146 - JANUARY 17, 2004
Photo By CSX Matt - Student of Don Bosco. Photo taken some time in the early 1990's.
Conductor John Newman and "Marvin."
Back in the early to mid 1990's, we had a little man, but a great friend of ours who would take a ride to New Haven and back. His name was Marvin. A simple but honorable little man who's only thrill in life was to take a train ride.
Marvin lived in some sort of shelter in Quincy, Massachusetts and would take the MBTA Red Line into Boston five or six days a week. He'd hang around South Station all morning until he saw his pal John Newman or some of us "other guys." John was Marvin's great friend, the guy who was primarily responsible for introducing Marvin to us, and introducing Marvin to our world.
To us, Marvin was just some poor little homeless guy who appeared to have been dealt a cruddy hand of cards in the high stakes game of life. He seemed to be a pretty much content soul, but he obviously didn't have an awful lot going on in his simple little life. To John, Marvin was a true friend and to Marvin, John was probably his best friend. John, and to a lesser extent, the rest of us, were probably his only friends.
I always knew John was Marvin's best friend because every time I'd see Marvin the first thing he'd ask is if I had seen John Newman? In fact, ten minutes later, he'd ask the same question....."Have you seen John Newman today?".....Then again and again.
We'd take Marvin with us to New Haven. He never caused any problems for anyone. He'd just find himself a seat, usually far from everyone else, and stare out the window of the train, always seeming to be day-dreaming.....His eyes just focused out on that great big world of ours passing him by, that he, at times, wasn't very much a part of.
When Marvin talked to us he always seemed very distant. I'm not sure what his exact problem was, but I always suspected he may have been autistic to a certain degree. The man had a fully functional mind....He would remember people's names, and train times, and he would always be eager to tell someone about the wonderful things he witnessed as he stared out the window and watched the great railroad world pass by.
Something as simple as seeing the Fisher's Island or Port Jeff ferry dock at New London Station was a grand event for him. He'd get all excited about it, then talk about it, and guys like John would listen to him and encourage him to speak about the great things he had seen in this great world that he now found himself finally being a part of.
When John or one of us bought him a sandwich at the sub shop in New Haven, Ct you would have thought we were treating him to a feast at a grand buffet. He'd sit there on the bench at New Haven Station, chomping away at his tuna fish sandwich (he couldn't eat roast beef because he had no teeth) and sipping his standard cup of hot coffee, regular, as happy as could be....All the time looking forward to his return trip home on the great train.
One day Marvin didn't show up. A few more days passed and Marvin was nowhere to be found. In fact years passed and Marvin never returned to the place that he loved, his railroad to see the people he loved, and who in turn loved him back.
Rumor has it that Marvin's caretaker came to South Station one day to find John Newman and tell him of Marvin's passing. I have no doubt she also intended to extend Marvin's thanks to John for being his best of friends, and thank John as well for welcoming Marvin into and having him become part of our railroad family.
He may not have had much of a life so to speak....
But he did touch the lives of many railroaders....
And I am quite sure his days on the railroad were the best days of his life.