by Miles Snyder
with Russ Decho and Al Schneider
On April 12th, 1986, after a short illness, Bud Novy died. He had been in the hospital for a short stay to clear up a bout of pneumonia when he was struck by a fatal heart attack. His funeral was on April 15th, and six close-friend Illinois Live Steamers members were pall bearers. He will not only be missed, he will be mourned.
Bud, if anyone could claim the honor, was the founder of the Illinois Live Steamers. Matt Fairlie, our first president, was the "front man" - the energetic mover whose attitude was, "Let's do it!" Bud's cadre of close Live Steam friends was the nucleus, but Bud was the quiet catalyst whose presence, advice, and determination caused ILS to happen. For the first eleven years of The Club he was an officer, eight as secretary.
Bud was born and grew up in Chicago and was christened Francis Novy. As a boy he was stricken with polio, from which he recovered except for a slight limp. As a young man in the depression 'thirties he worked at a number of jobs. He did a few stints as fireman on yard goats in both Chicago and East Coast yards. During WWII, he did defense plant work at the Chicago (Bellwood) Division of Borg-Warner, and moonlighted as an oil burner service man. After the war, he became a steamfitter and job superintendent for Bert Young & Sons Corporation, industrial plumbing contractor. One of his last jobs before his retirement in 1978 was on the construction of the Dailey Center-County Building in Downtown Chicago. For years afterward, if there were a need to find a specific pipe behind a marble wall, they didn't use the blueprints. They called Bud. He knew them all - every elbow, weld, and valve. For many years, Bud was also a volunteer fireman for the Westchester, Illinois, Fire Department
Bud's model railroad interests predated WWII. After the war, he developed a 00 gauge layout in the basement of his Westchester, Illinois, home but, about 1952, he and several buddies switched over to HO and filled the basement with a huge layout. Bud even replaced his old furnace with a modern compact boiler to gain more room for a particular curve. They named the layout "Addison Valley" and the Tuesday Night HO Gang held forth for many years. Bud was also a collector of tinplate.
Bud's interest in small gauge Live Steam stemmed from the 'thirties when he visited the few primitive tracks then in the midwest. About 1962, the Addison Valley line was expanded into a l-inch scale Live Steam loop. Bud built a 2-4-0 L. W. Bowker and some riding cars, and the gang put down a track in the back yard. It went under the apple tree, through the alley gate, past the garage apron, a hard left under the lilacs, then a long (30-foot) straightaway (well, almost) to the curve by the back door, then returned to the steaming yards under the apple tree. A few engines were built by other Addison Valley members and, on Tuesday nights, Bud's back yard became a mecca for Chicago area steam fans.
Most of the HO was soon cleared out of the basement (doesn't that always happen?) and winter Tuesdays became full open-house times for steam fans to show and see home movies and slides, shoot the bull, and exchange ideas and information. Twenty to thirty friends were the usual count. Some came from as far away as Europe and South Africa. Thus did Addison Valley become the nucleus of ILS, which was founded in 1967. Of the original HO group, Russ Decho, Ron Pett, Nick Schaub, and Al Schneider are still active ILS members. They were Bud's friends for from 34 to 37 years. Bud built several other locomotives after 1967. His next was a l-inch scale B&O 2-6-0 Mogul. It was followed by a C&NW Class R 4-6-0. He started a 2-10-2 Santa Fe type, but tired of it after the chassis was partly completed. Russ Decho recently acquired it and is planning its completion. Bud completed his first 7 1/2" gauge engine two years ago. It is a free-lance 2-8-0 painted bright green.
At the time of his death, he was working on a strange contraption, indeed. It is a 1/2" gauge version of a meter gauge French engine used in the construction of the Panama Canal. Imagine a vertical walking-beam engine. Now tilt it forward so the beams are vertical at the front, cylinders back by the boiler in front of the cab. It was nicknamed the French Grasshopper. The "Hopper" is about % completed.
Bud was unselfish with his ideas and he contributed many of them in articles in MODELTEC and Live Steam Magazines. Bud is survived by his wife, Lorraine, and four children: twins Tom and Patricia; Bob and Pete. Bob is a well-known winner on the stock car circuit. Bud is also survived by twelve grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. Bud is also survived by a much larger family - his fireman buddies, plumbing crews, and Live Steamers near and far, especially those friends privileged to be a part of the Tuesday Night Gang. Most of us are carrying around too much avoirdupois caused, in part, by Lorraine's irresistible Tuesday night delicacies.
Bud may no longer be with us physically, but the advice he gave so freely will never die. His spirit lives in the author's engines, in Russ's, and in scores of locomotives of ILS members and elsewhere. ___ and of a summer's evening, when the thunderheads build on the southern horizon and a white column of cloud shoots up against the grey distance, there are those who'll say it's not a cloud, it's Bud raisin ' steam; that when the lightning streaks, that's Bud crackin' the door to check his fire. And that isn't thunder in the distance, that's Bud's heavy Consol rumbling through the crossings and clattering past the frogs. And who's to say them wrong? But that moaning wind won't be his whistle. It will be a thousand friends mourning their loss as they give Bud a high-ball for a clear tangent to Infinity. Find the Company Notch, Bud, and keep a light hand on the throttle. Over the coming years, your old friends will be dropping in to see you from time to time.
ELEGY IN A COUNTRY TRAIN YARD
To the memory of a living Live Steamer, BUD NOVY
They tell me, Bud, you've left this sphere
And found eternal rest;
That you are sleeping Earth's deep sleep,
And with the Saints are blest.
They tell me, Bud, that you have gone
To catch the Evening Train;
Your gimpy walk, your impish smile
We'll never see again.
I say they're wrong! It is not so.
You laugh among us stilL
Your spirit lives in ev'ry mind,
And ev'ry heart does fill.
'Tis we who glide along life's track,
And sad and doleful seem.
'Tis you who now run straight and proud
Behind eternal steam.
Your fav'rite color, it was green
(As in " clear track ahead").
You'd brook no stint with rosy tint,
The halting color, red .
So here's to Bud, (who all his life
Ne'er let his glass run dry,
But kept his crown sheet covered well),
Let's raise a glass on high.
I give you Bud, unselfish sage,
Who's gone around the bend,
With headlight gleaming through the night
On Track that knows no end.
Miles Snyder, April 16, 1986