Posts Tagged ‘Binford Eubank’

Taking the Farkas Challenge: A Frame of Reference Image of the Railroads of Akron

June 10, 2016

B&O passenger 3

If the image above looks familiar, it should. A cropped version of this photograph has appeared at the top of the Akron Railroad Club blog since the site was launched in March 2009.

It was made by the late Binford Eubank and I am nominating it as his contribution to the Farkas challenge of a favorite photograph of railfanning in Akron.

The image shows a westbound Baltimore & Ohio passenger train departing in June 1965. The station in the background belongs to the Erie Lackawanna.

In many ways this is the quintessential Akron railroad scene for most members of the ARRC.

If you were born following World War II, you came of age in the 1960s and whatever the railroad structure was at that time is your frame of reference for Akron and its railroads for all time.

That means that you always have known the city’s dominant railroad as the B&O. The second-most dominant carrier was the Erie Lackawanna, which used to be the Erie Railroad, but that was during a time when you were too young to remember much.

Just as you were becoming intimately familiar with those railroads, they changed. The B&O morphed into the Chessie System although, technically, it was still the B&O on paper and the letters “B” and “O” appeared on the sides of locomotive cabs.

The Erie Lackawanna became part of Conrail, which worked steadily to erase it.

And the passengers trains serving Akron went away. That depot shown in Ben’s photo was razed and the site is now a bank branch.

Even if you came of age in the 1970s, this scene is still your frame of reference because your parents and their friends spoke of railroad operations during the era when this image was made. It is how you came to understand the railroads.

Change has a way of forcing people into being pragmatic and accepting that things are not the way they used to be.

Yet scenes such as this one are the foundation upon which understandings of the history of a city’s railroads are based, rooted in statements of facts prefaced with the phrase “used to be” as in that used to be the old B&O. The Erie Lackawanna used to run there. There used to be passenger trains here.

Article by Craig Sanders, Photograph by Binford Eubank

In Memory of Binford ‘Ben’ F. Eubank

April 21, 2015

Services for Binford “Ben” F. Eubank, 91, of Sebring, were held Monday afternoon at the Gotschall-Hutchison Funeral Home in Minerva. Burial was in East Lawn Cemetery of Minerva.

Mr. Eubank, a long-time member of the Akron Railroad Club, died on Thursday (April 16, 2015) in the Crandall Medical Center in Sebring.

Mr. Eubank had photographed railroad operations in Akron during the 1960s and his photograph of a Baltimore & Ohio passenger train departing from Akron Union Depot is used at the top of the ARRC blog. Some of Mr. Eubank’s photographs appeared in the book Akron Railroads.

His hobbies also included reading and air photography. He was a member of the Lighter than Air Society in Akron, the Naval Airship Association and American Legion Post 357 in Minerva.

Mr. Eubank had a number of jobs, including working for Goodyear, Minerva Milling Company, Minerva Savings and Bank, Republic Steel (Canton), Minerva Wax Paper, General Color and Chemical, and for John G. Cleminshaw Appraisers (county auditor work).

He studied aeronautical engineering technology in California and was a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Corps when World War II ended.

In an interview for a story published by The Repository of Canton in October 2013, Mr. Eubank recalled that his dominant memory of his time with the Air Corps was the Army’s apparent attempt to keep the trainees on the ground.

“They started to give us tests. Altitude tests. Color blindness tests. Square pegs in round holes tests,” he said. “We had one test — a psycho-motor skills test — that had something to do with reflexes and reaction times.

“They were trying to eliminate people. There were so many tests that every time you turned around, somebody was gone.”

Eight people were assigned to Mr. Eubank’s group when he arrived at boot camp in St. Louis.

“Within six weeks, seven of them were gone, and I was by myself. Anybody who washed out went back to the basic Army. I had to move to another hut.”

Mr. Eubank had enlisted in the Army in 1943 and wanted to be a pilot. Instead, the Army wanted him to be a navigator.

“It was the job of the navigator to get the plane to its mission and get it back,” he said. “You did a lot of other things, too. You read instruments and tracked weather.”

The pilots were always challenging their navigators. “They’d call you out of the blue and ask, ‘Where are we?’ ” Mr. Eubank said.

Mr. Eubank never left the states during the war. He spent part of his time as an instructor who trained other navigators.

He was accepted into a program that trained members of B-29 bomber crews in additional duties so that the crews could be diminished in size.

“I took crash courses in radar and as a bombardier,” Mr. Eubank said. “We weren’t told that it was for an attack on Japan, but we knew that it was because they gave us a course on (the geography of) Japan. And Japan was the only one left to fight.”

Mr. Eubank was in radar school in Arizona when World War II ended and the Army sent him to an air base in California “just to keep us busy.”

Although the Army encouraged him to re-enlist when his service commitment ended in 1946, Mr. Eubank said he just wanted to go home.

Minerva was home for much of his life. After graduating from Springfield High School in 1941, he moved to Minerva where he married Wilma Irene Baxter, living there for nearly the rest of his life. He also was a member of the Minerva United Methodist Church.

Since 2006, he and Wilma had lived at Copeland Oaks Retirement Community in Sebring.

Mr. Eubank was born on May 3, 1923, in west Akron (Kenmore), the son of Oley Orin Eubank and Grace (Sutton) Eubank. The family lived on Howard Avenue in Mogadore.

He was preceded in death by his wife and a sister, Dorma Warrick. Mr. Binford is survived by a son, Paul, of Fairborn, Ohio; a daughter, Ann Soriano, of New York City, and seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Those wishing to send condolences may sign the online register book at http://www.gotschallfuneralhome.com