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American Freedom Train Reunion 2010

The 2010 reunion was held in West Des Moines, Iowa at the Sheraton Hotel September 16-20, hosted by Harold James 'Red 24' & Janis Leeper.

Highlights included a dinner train excursion on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, breakfast at the Machine Shed restaurant, a piano bar, and the customary closing banquet.

American Freedom Train Reunion 2010 West Des Moines, Iowa
 
 

Can't make this stuff up.

Direct from Joan 'Grape' Knysh Mitchell's Facebook wall:

AFT Reunion... girls shopping day. One store, 10% discount, $2500.00 in one hour.... Priceless!!!

Caught with the goods, L to R: Lynn Ramsey, Judy Richman, Helen Hunter, Laurie McCormack, Gloria Bonneville, Linda Hinojosa Schannuth, Joan Knysh Mitchell (reputed ringleader, alias 'Grape'), Marty Rothschild, Gail Vasterling Stracke.

 
 

John Lewis brought a nearly complete HO model of the American Freedom Train for display. It was quite a hit, including the custom AFT dome car.

John runs the American Freedom Train Yahoo Group which began all the way back in 2002.

 
 

'Wild Bill' Hoban and Dale Chesnutt reminisce about life on the train.

(I just made that up. I have no idea what they were talking about.)

 
 

The Saturday night piano bar began calmly enough, with sing-a-longs of several patriotic classics and other bucolic fare.

It didn't last.

 
  Thirty minutes later: belting out Broadway show tunes (or, in the editor's case, mostly just lip-synching to Brad and Marty).  
 

Hanky-waving 'conga line' to When The Saints Go Marching In, likely instigated by New Orleans native Gail Vasterling Stracke.

It was a fun night.

 
 

The Sunday evening closing banquet, business meeting, and auction gets under way.

Michael Dzatko and Carla Rollandini donated several dozen authentic AFT tickets and memorabilia to the auction to help offset the expenses of the next reunion hosts. Mary Jayne & John Rowe also contributed items, as did several others.

 
 

By popular vote, it was decided Bill & Tina Hoban would host the next reunion in Sonoma, CA -- around April 2012.

The night ended, as always, with a screening of the film All Aboard America.

 
 

A couple tokens of appreciation for the gracious hosts -- Janis Leeper with an "LA, New York, Paris, Des Moines" shirt and Jim Leeper with a carved wood Harley Davidson emblem.

To be continued in 2012...

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