It was while pounding the pavement of Old Preston Hollow in search of a certain lost chicken that I noticed some train tracks running through the back yard of a an aging but stately house on Park Lane.
For those of you who aren't familiar with Preston Hollow, that isn't normal.
No one was home, but when I came back later I met Ed Landrum. He moved gingerly and had an oxygen tank in tow -- his health was the reason the tracks were empty -- but he took me to his backyard shop and showed me what usually went there: a three-ton Cagney locomotive he'd rescued from Kidd Springs Park back when it stopped being an amusement park.
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Landrum was a train buff, the type of person who, when prompted, can drop an encyclopedia's worth of obscure engineering detail and railroad history on his listeners.
It was his passion for trains that brought him together with Black Eyed Pea founder Phil Cobb. They met in the late 1980s, when Cobb was leading efforts to restore McKinney Avenue's original brick surface, uncovering in the process the streetcar tracks that ran underneath. Landrum showed Cobb a video clip showing street cars using the tracks decades before and told him the they were in good enough condition to last another 50 years.
It's been only 22 years since streetcars returned to McKinney Avenue under the auspices of the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority, which the men founded. Landrum's son, John, currently heads the operations.
MATA announced today on its Facebook page that Ed Landrum died last night at his home. He was 87.