Merci Train - Acknowledgments
I want to publicly acknowledge the kindness and generosity of individuals who have graciously donated, or will be donating to the technical work of designing and maintaining this web site. Without their work the web site could not exist.
Hume Kading, who originally designed and set up the web site for me in 1999. During the following 8 years, as I was enabled to visit and photograph 42 of the 43 surviving boxcars and locate more and more information about the train's history and forward it to Hume, he would input the data for me. Health problems forced Hume to give it up in 2007. I sadly accepted his resignation because he had become a treasured friend to me.
About a year after Hume had to stop, Jim Jones took "up the reins" of maintaining the site. But by the time that another year had passed, Jim too was forced to quit when health problems struck him.
Mark Wise, at the request of my friend Hume, donated a lot of his time and talents during the year 2009 to redesign the web site using a newer web design program because the old programming tool that Hume had used in 1999 was now obsolete.
While making a visit to the Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, GA, I met a man who told me of an acquaintance of his who had the skills needed to maintain the web site and who might be willing to do the work as a volunteer.
I soon contacted Ed Hawkins and Ed has graciously taken over the job.
Already Ed and I are developing the same type of friendship that I enjoy with Hume.
Most importantly, I want to acknowledge the willing cooperation, contributions, and encouragement of my late wife, Linda, and my current wife, Gloria. If they had not been of a like mind with me about it, I would not have been able to start, nor be blessed to continue with, my quest to "Root Out" the wonderful heart warming story of the Merci Train. They both have traveled thousands of miles, spent many nights in motels, and also spent a lot of hours waiting for me at boxcar locations and in libraries, archives, and museums while I searched for, or told folks, something of the history, or while others told us about something they knew of that history. Gloria and I have only been married since early 2009. During that short time, not yet two years, she has been with me while I revisited 16 of the boxcars. Of course, Linda was there during the first 5 years (1994 to 1999), during the time I was searching for the boxcars and also for historical information about the boxcars and the gifts from France that were delivered in them. Without her cooperation, neither my book nor this web site would exist today. Again, I appreciate that they both have shared my desire to tell people of today about some wonderful events that deserve to be brought to their attention.
I want to assure the reader that the rediscovery of this history is not a "one man operation". Dozens of people (like Pam Todd, Roxanne Godsey, Dorothy Scheele, John Stevens, Ken Tilley, and the late Andy Dolak to name a few) have all shared some item of knowledge that they knew or had just discovered about the Merci Train history; for instance, several folks have given me tips that resulted in locating some of the 49 satin wedding gowns (one was sent in each state's boxcar) and enable me to locate and interview the woman who was married in the dress that came to Alabama. She and her husband honeymooned in France and personally met the women who had made her gown; I have written of their "dream wedding" in my book "The Merci Train".
Without the help of many, many individuals (past & future), I could not continue to revive this wonderful story from the time of our parents and grandparents.
I also want to say that I believe that God purposely led me into my own discovery of the history and then inspired me to tell and often retell, the story of people putting into practice His declared wishes, that we all share in the lives of others, just as God's own son, Jesus, shared his own righteousness with each of us by experiencing the agony of spiritual death (as well as physical death) on our behalf on that Roman cross. I urge all that who are not familiar with the story of his "donation" (to each of us) read about it in one of the newer translations of the Holy Bible; I like the New American Standard version.
Earl R. Bennett Sr.
Founder and Owner
July 10, 1932 - Nov. 14, 2013