The Way it Was: Low Cost Train Watching, Dropping Film at the Processing Plant

Some of you may remember having met Lou Sabetto in Berea in past years.

He photographed Cleveland railroad operations between the 1930s and 1980s before his death.

Although Sabetto had a vast photograph collection, it is thought to have been lost after he entered an assisted living facility due to heath issues.

Sheldon Lustig, another Berea regular, once commented that when he asked Sabetto how he was cataloging his collection, he pointed to his head and said “it’s all up here.”

Lustig recently related another story about Sabetto in an email distributed to subscribers of the Northern Ohio Association of Railway Societies email list.

Sabetto would pack two lunches and during the summer ride a streetcar to the East Cleveland station after work to catch the New York Central’s train 244, a local to Buffalo, New York, or No. 46, the Interstate Express. He would disembark in Painesville and spend the next few hours watching trains.

That included a the eastbound Fifth Avenue Special, Advance Commodore Vanderbilt, Southwestern Limited, New England States, Cleveland Limited, Ohio State Limited, Commodore Vanderbilt, and Twentieth Century Limited.

Eastbound trains included the South Shore Express, Empire State Express, and Pittsburgh-Cleveland Express.

Sabetto would then board Train 5, the Mohawk, back to East Cleveland and board another streetcar to go home. The cost for all of this was less than $3.

Another memory of how it used to be was recently shared by David Oroszi of Dayton.

Kodak has a film processing facility in Findlay, Ohio, and by its front door was a yellow mailbox.

Photographers who had purchased mailers could drop their slide film in that box and save on postage.

There was another benefit to dropping off film directly at the processing facility.

You not only saved on postage but greatly reduced the chance that your film would get lost in the mail.

“So many times we would go out of our way to drop off film right at the plant,” Oroszi wrote.

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