The Caboose restoration has begun! If you have visited the camp anytime in the last 40 years, then perhaps you noticed the Caboose, which has not officially been dubbed the camp “trademark” but, in essence, functions as one. The caboose was originally donated by Ray Robinson, Jr. back in 1972.
The caboose is the first visible “dwelling” that you come across as you make the right that brings you into the circle. The camp was actually seeking an old train that could be donated to the camp. When Ray heard about this quest, he decided to donate the caboose to the camp. It was originally to be put in the back yard of Ray Robinson’s house. Once Ray discovered how tricky and potentially dangerous it would be to transport it, he decided that he would gift it to the camp.
The Caboose is a Long Island Railroad Caboose #38, Class N25A, made from wood. It has a center Cupola, which is being replicated as closely as possible to the original structure. It was built in 1917, so it will be celebrating its centennial in three years!
Ray dedicated the gift of the caboose to the memory of his own father, Ray Robinson, Sr. who worked out of the Speonk train station for 45 years. Ray Sr. began working with freight and moved over to work with passengers not long after. The Long Island Railroad assisted in bringing the caboose to Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck where it has remained until present day. The caboose has housed staff through the years, and has been a huge part of the Spooky Walk. After the restoration, I am hopeful that it can function as an information center in the off-season, and perhaps a “Computer Café” for our international staff during the summer season. The main point is that it will have possibilities as the floors and walls are now secure once again.
In order to be accurate for this report, I looked up Ray Robinson to see if he wanted to add anything to this story. I found him after 42 years, still eager to recall the story of the caboose. We spoke for about 25 minutes with my promise to have him to the camp for lunch and his promise to bring a photo of the caboose just as its journey here began.
Ray was proud to tell me that he is 93 years young and has driven to every state of the union with his wife during their time together. Ray served as an engineer in the Coast Guard during WWII and manned a Naval Ship with his comrades. Every year since 1945, he and his wife traveled to a different state in the country to meet his Coast Guard mates for an annual reunion.
Ray informed me that he needed to go as we were finishing up our conversation; he was going to visit his bride of 72 years! Mrs. Robinson now resides in the Westhampton Care Facility and Ray was going to go for his daily visit. I will be honored to meet with this gentleman once the caboose is complete and I am so grateful for the time he took with me today!
Till next time,
Yours in Camping,