The Owosso Argus-Press March 25, 1947
Severe drifting across the right of way north of Alma obliged the Ann Arbor Railroad to suspend passenger service from there to Frankfort, and freight runs, creeping behind snow plows, are many hours behind schedule in that section of the line, it was announced at division headquarters here today.
Toledo Blade Aug. 21, 1947
Commuting Pupils At Lulu Will Miss Old Conductor
Funeral Services For 'Uncle Ben' Belcher Of Ann Arbor Railway Being Held Today
When Ann Arbor's No. 51 bound for Owosso, Mich., from Toledo, puffs to a flagstop at Lulu next week, it won't be the same train for some 20 youngsters who will climb aboard to take the ratting ride to Dundee.
The pattern of the first day of school for these kids was, first of all, to yell for “Uncle Ben” even before the train ground to a stop. Then they climbed all over him and told the news of the summer, introduced the new kids starting their first year at Dundee High School and egged him on to yell at them not to put their hands out the open windows.
Only Echoes Of Voices
This year, however, they will be a glum bunch and all they'll hear will be the echoes of Conductor Ben Belcher's gruff voice up and down the aisles of the old coaches. Alonzo
Benjamin Belcher was to be buried today in Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo and all through the route of 51 up to Owosso – the only passenger train up that road – the folks who haven't heard that he died Monday will looking for him, for his dry humor and expansive good will.
The adults called him “Captain,” but his most favored passengers, the school kids from Lulu and Samaria, knew him as Uncle Ben. For 12 years he took them up to Dundee and later that afternoon, when he picked up No. 52 at Owosso, he brought the kids back home again from Dundee.
Many an adult today remembers the words of wisdom he or she received from Uncle Ben during a time of youthful trouble. Many of them remember the way he dawdled around, holding the engineer for a few minutes just in case some of the missing school children would come running down to make the train.
On Uncle Ben's birthday nobody missed school because for the last 10 years the youngsters took up a collection and bought him a present from them every Christmas.
Mrs. Belcher said that Uncle Ben was going to retire in January when he reached the age of 65 and, since he knew it would the last time he could greet the kids from the last car of 51, he was looking forward eagerly to opening of school.
Won't Feel The Same
Mr. Belcher was a four-stripe-and-star man on the Ann Arbor. That means he had 45 years of service behind him and friends on, every branch of the road. Up in the station restaurant at Durand, where the crew of 51 stopped to eat lunch, at the terminal in Owosso and all along the flagstops of the route, the folks will not feel the train is the same. They will miss the “Captain.” But the kids from Lulu will miss him most.
Many of them, now grown up, were with the members of the Masonic Order from Owosso who last night paid their last respects to Ben Belcher in the Pierstorff Funeral Home. Others attended the services today at just about the time No. 51 heaved a sigh of escaping steam and stopped for lunch at Durand. They say the train does not even sound the same with “Uncle Ben.”