Tuesday, April 4, 2017

O. R. Cummings - 1923-2013 - Author of More than Fifty Books on Electric Railways

O. R. Cummings on the cover of May-June 2013 "Dispatch"
Newsletter of the New England Electric Railway
Historical Society (NEERHS). NEERHS is the 501c3
organization that owns and operates the Seashore Trolley
Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine and the
National Streetcar Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts.

      This Narcissus blog has released nearly one hundred posts in the past two years and many of them have utilized information or materials from publications or photos from O. R. Cummings. O. R. passed away early in 2013. Over nearly twenty years, he was always willing to respond to my many requests for details on a particular electric vehicle or railway. He wrote letters of support for grant applications and was very happy to be able to ride on the 1906 electric locomotive, Atlantic Shore Line No. 100, during its ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of its restoration in September 2009. O. R. so wanted to see the Narcissus completely restored to operating condition. I am very grateful to O. R. for his gifts of published works and the vast collection of electric railway materials he donated to the NEERHS Library. Thank you, O. R.

The May-June 2013 issue of the Dispatch included the obituary for O. R. Cummings:

       Seashore's Historian Emeritus, Osmund Richard Cummings passed away on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, in Manchester, NH. The son of Orrin E. and Mary (Audley) J. Cummings, he was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts on May 15, 1923, and lived there and in nearby Manchester, NH the greater part of his life.

       Known to almost no one as Osmund, too few as "Dick", and to most as simply "O.R.," O.R. Cummings was THE historian of electric railways in New England. O. R. was a longtime Seashore member, serving as Trustee, Chairman of the Board, Historian, and Historian Emeritus.

       Seashore published a number of O.R.'s books, including Trolleys to York Beach and Atlantic Shore Trolleys, and others from Maine and other parts of northern New England. Like Ira Swett on the West Coast, O. R. was OUR High Priest of Electric Traction and justly proud of the more than 100 books and articles to which he attached his name. These remain his remarkable legacy. O. R.'s best-known works were his five-volume series on the Massachusetts Northeastern Street Railway and a six-volume compendium, Streetcars of Boston.

       O. R. was a 1940 graduate of Amesbury High School, attended Bates College for two years and was graduated from the Bentley School of Accounting and Finance, now Bentley College, in 1948.

       Cummings served in the U. S. Coast Guard for three years during World War II and in the U. S. Navy for nearly a year during the Korean Conflict.

       He worked in the newspaper business for many years, starting with the Newburyport Daily News as a reporter from 1948-1956. At this, he joined the newsroom staff of the Manchester Union Leader. He was a copy editor when he retired in January 1987.

       O. R. also belonged to the 470 Railroad Club of Portland, Maine; Mass. Bay Division, Railroad Enthusiasts; the Boston & Maine Historical Society, Central Electric Railfans Association; the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society; the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum; the Manchester Historic Association; and the Boston Street Railway Association for which he authored two books and a number of articles.

       Cummings was one of the last of the real "old timers,"  who remembered and rode some of the iconic New England trolley systems including Eastern Mass., Boston Elevated, Portland-Lewiston Interurban, and Androscoggin & Kennebec. As such, he could write as an eyewitness, something very few can now claim. His recollection of traction history was legendary and talking with him about his many adventures was an extraordinary experience and a real treat.

       A highpoint of his life came near the end, in November 2012, when he went on an Honor Flight New England-sponsored trip with 24 other veterans to tour the World War II Memorial, the Iwo Jima Monument, the Air Force, and Navy monuments and other Washington, D. C. sites.

       The Society was privileged to have had O. R. as an active member for so many years and we will sorely miss him. His nearest relatives are three first cousins, and to them, we offer our most sincere and deepest condolences.


Two stalwarts of the Seashore Trolley Museum for decades, Lester H.
Stephenson, Jr. (L) and O. R. Cummings (seated) enjoying a moment in the
Connecticut Car Company No. 1160 in 2009.
PWM photo

Patricia Pierce Erikson (L) with O.R. Cummings during the ribbon-cutting
ceremony of the newly restored, 1906 Atlantic Shore Line electric
locomotive No. 100, at Seashore Trolley Museum in September 2009.
PPE photo

O.R. Cummings being assisted into the cab of ASL-100 prior to its inaugural
mainline trip during the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the newly restored, 
1906 Atlantic Shore Line electric locomotive No. 100.
PPE photo at Seashore Trolley Museum in September 2009.

Restoration work continues on the Narcissus. The Narcissus is more than 100 years old now and has so many incredible stories to share. The restoration is but one.

     The Narcissus is featured in the national Gold Award-winning novel, Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride. The "Elegant Ride" is the Narcissus. Theodore Roosevelt was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914, between Lewiston and Portland, Maine, during campaigning for the Progressive Party candidates. June 2020

Independent book publisher, Phil Morse, holding
the Gold Book Award Winner plaque for
 the Middle Reader category for The Eric
Hoffer Book Award. Congratulations to
award-winning Maine author,
Jean M. Flahive

     The paperback edition of Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride can be purchased online through the Seashore Trolley Museum's store website. Books purchased through the Museum's website directly benefit the Museum and the Narcissus project. Amazon book purchases also benefit the Museum and the Narcissus.

Click Here to go to the Museum Store webpage to order online

Click Here to go to the Amazon page to order the book online

Click Here to go to the ebook page

Books are available at these local bookstores in Maine:
The Book Review, Falmouth
The Bookworm, Gorham
Letterpress Books, Portland
Nonesuch Books and More, South Portland
Sherman's Maine Coast Book Shops - All locations

Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride
by Jean M. Flahive
Illustrations by Amy J. Gagnon

     Millie Thayer is a headstrong farmer's daughter who chases her dreams in a way you would expect a little girl nicknamed "Spitfire" would-running full tilt and with her eyes on the stars. Dreaming of leaving the farm life, working in the city, and fighting for women's right to vote, Millie imagines flying away on a magic carpet. One day, that flying carpet shows up in the form of an electric trolley that cuts across her farm. A fortune-teller predicts that Millie's path will cross that of someone famous. Suddenly, she finds herself caught up in events that shake the nation, Maine, and her family. Despairing that her dreams may be shattered, Millie learns, in an unexpected way, that dreams can be shared.
A resource for teachers 
Maine Historical Society has created companion lesson plans inspired by Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride - These State-standard-based lesson plans for classroom use in grades 6, 7, and 8 are now completed. They will be uploaded to the Maine Memory Network and will be included with the other statewide lesson plans K-12. Once a link is available, it will be posted here. The lesson plans will also be uploaded and available through the Seashore Trolley Museum's website later in July 2020. Go to the Teacher Resource Page in the pulldown for more details.

The ebook is available through Amazon Kindle Click HERE

The audiobook is now available Click HERE to go to the Audible page.

2-minute, 30-second, Retail Audio Sample of the Audiobook 

Award-winning author, Jean M. Flahive


Click Here to read the post - Coveted Blueink Starred Review  - Notable Book - January 20, 2020

Click Here to read the post - Three 5-Star Reviews from Readers' Favorite posted on January 6, 2020

Click Here to read January 24, 2020 - Four-Star Clarion Review

Click Here to read January 19, 2020 - Theodore Roosevelt Center Blog Post Review

Click Here to read the December 25, 2019 4-Stars out of 4-Stars Review through OnlineBookClub

Please Consider a Donation to the Narcissus Project to help us tell the incredible story of the Narcissus through the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project.

     Here is an example of how donations to the Narcissus Project now will help with the interpretation portion of the project. The interpretation programming will include exhibits, displays, education programming. During 2019, through generous donations to the Narcissus Project, we were able to conserve, replicate, and have high resolutions digital image files made of the original, 1910, 25.5-foot long, surveyor map of the elevation and grade of the 30-mile private right-of-way of the Portland, Gray, and Lewiston Railroad (Portland-Lewiston Interurban)
Thank You!

MUST-READ! - Click Here 

   Inside the Donald G. Curry Town House Restoration Shop, the Narcissus is in the midst of major work as we strive to complete its restoration. We are now planning the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project. Donations to the Narcissus Project may be used in the future to help tell the incredible 100-plus-year-old story of the Narcissus. Your donation to the Narcissus is helping to make the dream of the project's success, a reality.

See below for Donation options -
It starts with YOU
Your Donation Matters
Make a Donation TODAY

Please Help the Narcissus. 
Donation Options to Help the Narcissus Project:

The New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
is the 501c3 organization that owns and operates the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME and the National Streetcar
The NEERHS is registered with the IRS (EIN# 01-0244457) and was incorporated in Maine in 1941.

Check or Money Order ***** should be made payable to:
New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
In the memo please write: Narcissus Fund 816-A
Mail to: Seashore Trolley Museum
              P. O. Box A
              Kennebunkport, ME 04046

Credit Card ***** donations can be a one-time donation or you
may choose to have a specific amount charged to your card
automatically on a monthly basis. Please contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at finance@NEERHS.org or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5.

Online Donations - may be made by using a Credit Card: 
Click Here to make an online donation through the Museum's website - When at the Donation page: Fill in donor info, etc., when at "To which fund are you donating? Scroll down to "Other" and type in: 816-A Narcissus, then continue on filling in the required information.

Click Here for PayPal - to make an online donation: you can use email: finance@NEERHS.org and in the message box write:
For Narcissus fund 816-A

Donation of Securities ***** We also accept donations of
securities. You can contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at finance@NEERHS.org or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5,
for brokerage account information for accepting donated securities.

BONUS ***** If you work for a company/corporation that will
"match" an employee's donation to an approved 501c3 non-profit
educational organization, please be sure to complete the necessary paperwork with your employer so that your donation is matched :)

Questions? ***** Please contact Narcissus project manager:
Phil Morse, pmorse31@gmail.com or call 207-985-9723 - cell.

Thank You :)

Thank You for our Current Funding Partners
20th Century Electric Railway Foundation - 2018 - Major Gift, 2017/2014 Matching Grants
Renaissance Charitable Foundation (LPCT) by Fiduciary Trust Charitable Giving Fund
Mass Bay RRE - 2018 Railroad Preservation Grant 
Thornton Academy (Saco, ME) - Staff & Alumni - Matching Grant Challenge 2014
New England Electric Railway Historical Society (Kennebunkport, ME) - Member Donations
Amherst Railway Society - 2015 Heritage Grant
National Railway Historical Society - 2016 & 2015 Heritage Preservation Grants
Enterprise Holding Foundation - 2015 Community Grant
Theodore Roosevelt Association - Member Donations
John Libby Family Association and Member Donations
* The Conley Family - In Memory of Scott Libbey 2018/2017/2016/2015
* The W. S. Libbey Family - Awalt, Conley, Graf, Holman, Libbey, McAvoy, McLaughlin, Meldrum, O'Halloran, Salto, - 2018/2017
* The Hughes Family 2017/2016/2010
New Gloucester Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Public Library Association - Pat Barter Speaker Series
* LogMein - Matching Employee Donation
* IBM - Matching Employee/Retiree Donations
* Fidelity Charitable Grant - Matching Employee Donations
* Richard E. Erwin Grant - 2017/2016

The Narcissus, with interior back-lit, stained glass windows are majestic.
Make a donation today to help restore the interior of this Maine gem.
Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track! Once restored,
you will be able to ride in luxury on this National Register Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
PWM photo

Please Consider Making a Donation to the project of the National Register of Historic Places member, Narcissus. We are currently raising funds to tell the incredible story of this Maine gem.

Various News stories during the summer of 2015 about the
Narcissus and its connection to Theodore Roosevelt. TR
was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914.

Click Here to See the list of All Previous Blog Posts - Index

The Narcissus - July 31, 2015. Make a donation today.
Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track!
Once restored, you will be able to ride in luxury on this
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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