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My Early Life by Chris Guenzler

I was born of December 31th, 1957 at 3:08 PM, with 8 hours, 52 minutes to go making me a tax deduction for the year of 1957. After my birth, my Father made it back to his night job Disneyland. I was the third of the five future Guenzler kids which made me the middle child which might explain quite a bit about me. I was raised in Garden Grove until the Summer of 1959 when the family moved to a larger house in Santa Ana with an orange grove across the street until 1967 when a housing tract was put in. My mother would stroll me down Catalina Street daily to Lincoln Ave which had the Santa Fe Surf Line to San Diego across the street to watch a northbound Santa Fe Passenger train run by on it's way from San Diego to Los Angeles. She noticed I was fascinated by the trains. She also noticed that I wasn't hearing many things going on around me. One fateful day she drove me down to the Santa Fe train station in Santa Ana. When the northbound San Diegan train came in, she placed me by the engine and waited for the train to leave for Los Angeles.

When the engineer blew his horn and I didn't flinch, she knew then that her son, Chris had a hearing problem. Tubes were placed in both ears but because of ear infections, tubes were placed a second time in my ears which then restored my hearing. Of course, my speech was affected and years of speech pathologist finally corrected most of those problems. I was an easy target at Hoover School as I was picked on as kids didn't understand my problems. I was in Cub Scouts then Webolos on into Boy Scouts years later. I played Little League in 1967 winning a championship on the Phillies. When I was eight, Coco a Rec Leader taught me to pitch and when the 12-14 year olds didn't have a pitcher, Coco decided to use the little eight year old funny talking kid to pitch. The older kids didn't care if I could talk as long as I could pitch which I did as we won a championship and I pitched a no hitter at eight. I enjoyed playing flag football and basketball became my love. I went to Willard Junior High School playing flag football winning another title in 8th grade. By this time Amtrak was born on May 1, 1971, and they toured their Turbo Train which I saw through Santa Ana one afternoon.

Now let's get to my love of travelling and when that all started. My Father rented a camper in 1968 and we took a two week trip up the Pacific Coast. In 1969,our family bought a camper and started the traditional of month long trip. In 1971 we went across the USA and into eastern Canada. This trip was an eye opening experience as I saw the affects of race riots in Cairo,IL and Detroit, MI. Our family drove the Blue Ridge Parkway and saw more riot affects in Richmond Vi. We explored Williamsburg and Washington, DC seeing all of the national monuments. In Harrisburg I saw my first Amtrak unit, a ex Penn Central unit with the point less arrow.

Next it was to New York City where I saw the Twin Towers, Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building. We stayed out in Port Jefferson, Long Island with my Aunt Linda. Below is a picture of a Long Island RR RS-1 that I took in Port Jefferson, NY.

We went to Cape Cod then up into Maine before crossing into Quebec with an introduction to French Television. Niagara Falls was visited before we cut across Ontario into Detroit with a tour of the Ford Car Plant. We went around the south side of Lake Michigan through Chicago into Wisconsin. We headed to the Badlands and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. We headed home via Cheyenne where I met the UP 3985 outside in a storage line with gas turbines.

The family's favorite location to visit was Glacier National Park and for the next three years we ended up there at Many Glaciers. This led to trips into Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies. We visited Edmonton on one trip where I shot the picture below.

These trips led me to discovering Canadian Passenger trains. In Jasper below a picture of Canadian National's Super Continental.

I also got the chance to take pictures of the Canadian on CP Rail at Fields, BC.

Other favorite places was the Oregon Coast and Graves Creek in Olympic National Park. These travelling experience all led me to become the train rider I blossomed into to.

I ended up going to Santa Ana High School and playing basketball my sophomore year. That year I was also jumped 60 on 1 at lunch my only crime was being white. That taught me an important lesson and that was to accept everyone for who they are and never judge any one by race, creed or color. I became the phantom student after that attending school on a new limited class on campus schedule. That summer we went to Spokane for Expo 74 where I met the Union Pacific 8444.

Power for our San Diegan trains also changed in 1974 with the SDP-40F's taking over.

Our Boy Scout Troop broke up with me one merit badge short of my Eagle Scout Award. In January the American Freedom Train paid a visit to Anaheim Stadium. Jeff, Bruce and I took off school to see it arrive on our bicycles. That night we went back over for a night shot of former Southern Pacific 4-8-4 #4449 did complete high school in June of 1976, our nation's bicentennial.

Santa Fe painted up five of it's locomotives in a very attractive paint scheme.

I started attending Santa Ana Junior Collage taking a geography class and falling in love with that subject. Bicycle trips became my hobby for a while and Bruce, Jeff and I rode our bikes from Santa Ana to Cajon Pass on the hottest day of 1976.

In Riverside we caught the UP train above and in San Bernardino got another Santa Fe bicentennial unit on the Super C.

In 1976 was the change of power to F-40phs and Amfleet Cars. My brother Bruce is working baggage in the photo below.

I had started drinking off and on in rare occasions. I worked at the Learning Center at the College for the next ten years as I finished up at Santa Ana in 1979 with a BA Degree before moving on to Cal State Fullerton where I got my BA in Geography. I graduated in 1981 and got a job with Santa Ana Unified at MacArthur Fundamental Junior High as the PE aide. By 1980, my train riding had started but those story are told in full in other places on this web site.