Frequently Asked Questions
The following are many of our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). If you don't see your question answered below, please e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to answer it, and perhaps add it here for others.
BACKGROUND ABOUT THE PHOEBE SNOW SOCIETY Why the name "Phoebe Snow"? Who was Phoebe Snow? Are you affiliated with the singer of the same name? So who is the dark-haired chick on the cover of the CD ROM that members receive? How many members does PSS have? I'm a business owner or represent another gay organization and I'd like to link our web site to PSS. What are your policies on this? Where are you located?
INFORMATION ABOUT JOINING PSS Why do members have to be 18 or over, is this some kind of sex club? Is there a local chapter I can join? How much are dues? I am on a limited budget on account of fixed income -- is there a senior citizen rate? Who is this "Queen Mother", and how do I contact her? Do I have to send in a profile? I've never been employed at a railroad or transit agency, is that a problem?
IS PSS A WELCOMING/SECURE/SAFE GROUP TO JOIN? I am a lesbian, can I join? I'm a model railroader, will I be welcome? I'm a collector of railroadiana, will I be welcome? I'm interested in light rail or streetcars, will I be welcome? I'm still in the closet. Can I trust you to be discreet? I don't have access to a computer at home, is your site "work safe"? Okay, but I still don't have a computer at home, and don't want to take a chance at work, so can I be a member anyway?
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PSS MEMBER BENEFITS? How can I get in touch with other Phoebe Snow Society members? Can I become Queen Mother? Volunteer? Really?? Me??? How can I get involved? How can I contribute to the PSS newsletter? What is a "Yahoo! Group"? Are you a bunch of cowboys? How do I join the Yahoo! group and members-only web site? I signed up for the Yahoo! group and I'm sick of getting 100 emails a day, but I don't want to stop hearing from the group entirely! What can I do? How can I post pictures on the web sites? Do you have a annual convention? Do I need to be a member of the National Railway Historical Society to come to the PSS meeting during a convention? Are there Phoebe Snow members in the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society who might get together? I'm a model railroader. How about the National Model Railroaders Association? Also visit our Member Benefits page
Phoebe Snow was a fictional character used by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad who advertised the virtues of burning Anthracite coal in the locomotives (hence less smoke and cinders) by wearing white when she traveled on the DL&W RR trains.
In the time before air conditioned cars, people wore dark colored clothes, otherwise they would appear filthy at the end of a journey with open window coaches. Lackawanna burned "smokeless" coal and tried to use it as a competitive advantage. We adopted the sophisticated lady in the white dress who enjoys riding trains as our representative in 1978.
Are you affiliated with the singer of the same name?
No, although we're pretty sure some of our members would enjoy Phoebe Snow's music. If you're looking for her web site:
So who is the dark-haired chick on the cover of the CD ROM that members receive?
Would you believe that's the original Phoebe Snow's granddaughter? She fun, full of adventure, likes diesels as well as steam, and has a lot of gay friends she adores.
Actually she's a commissioned art work from a talented lady from El Paso, Texas, who produces a web comic called "Friendly Hostility": It revolves around a gay couple and their weird and wonderful friends and family.
Our Miss Phoebe was styled after Christine Gonzales, the first female engineer in the US, who also coincidentally was from El Paso and shares a Mexican American heritage with the cartoonist. Our Miss Phoebe is a tribute to Christine, and besides, this is NOT the "Lackawanna Lovers' society", so give it a rest, and accept that she's been modernized, ok? (but she still wears white)
Of course! We'd love to have you! PSS is open to all gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people age 18 or over.
Yes! Please see above.
Yes! Please see above.
Yes! Please see above.
No. The reason we specify age 18 is to circumvent any problems that might arise from irate parents accusing us of shenanigans with the "Thomas the Tank Engine ®" crowd.
PSS is NOT a sex club, we're just a bunch of friendly railfans who enjoy rail transit and happen to be G/L/B/T.
This does NOT preclude members from "hooking up" if they so choose, as what consenting adults do in private is nobody else's business -- ours or the government's!
As of right now, we have only three local chapters that have regular meetings.
One is the San Francisco chapter known as the "Lark." The second is in Washington, DC, who go by "Hot Box." We welcome our newest affiliate, the "Liberty Liners" that are members from from the Philadelphia and New Jersey area.
We'd be happy to get you in touch with them if you'd like to join.
We'd also welcome any other groups who would like to organize another local chapter! Otherwise, we're scattered primarily all over the USA and six other countries including Canada, England, New Zealand, Poland, Ireland and Australia.
Several areas have concentrations of PSS members who get together from time to time, but no formal organization of a local chapter yet. Until then, we're trying to ensure that the international group will meet their (and your) expectations!
Contact between PSS members is usually through our web site, Yahoo group discussion board, private email, newsletter mailings, annual CD ROM, phone contacts, and occasional gatherings held in various locations.
We encourage those who will be traveling to check with the members in the area for advice on railfanning hot spots and the local gay scene. The more connections we make, the better it will be for everyone!
You will receive a membership roster with names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of the other members. We recommend making the initial contact by email or snail mail. You never know when someone is sleeping.
We don't have a rigid dues system, but prefer to leave it as; "We'll ask for donations when the treasury is depleted."
We're very conservative with the funds, as we don't like to have to ask for money any more than we have to! Mostly the donations we collect go toward member benefits such as the PSS web site, the annual CD ROM, the PSS Newsletter and mailing costs.
The suggested donation is $15 when you first join, unless you need hardcopy printouts of everything, and then we ask for $25 to cover the extra expenses involved in printing and mailing. If you're from a place other than the U.S., then we'd appreciate a little extra to cover increased international postage.
No specific "Senior's rate", but let's face it, gay railfans are a pretty specialized niche, and we wouldn't want to deny membership to anyone because of something like $15. We're all about you joining our family of friends, your participation is more important to us than putting a hardship on your finances.
So, thanks to the generosity of many PSS members who contribute an extra amount of dues expressly for this purpose, if you can't afford the Phoebe Snow Society, we've got a little extra in the fund that might be available to help with your membership dues.
Contact the Queen Mother confidentially to see if help is available at this time.
"Queen Mother" is the affectionate term for the current leader of the Phoebe Snow Society. (gender issues aside)
We've had five in our 30+ year history: Roy Arpan (deceased) Tom Kopriva (deceased) David Ross (deceased) John Downing (happily riding trains in retirement) Jeff Slupski (alive, kicking, and in command!)
Jeff can be e-mailed at: email@example.com or mail can be addressed to: The Phoebe Snow Society 274 Quincy Dr Levittown, PA 19057
Well, it's usually succession after the last QM passes away, and Jeff has no intention of doing that in the foreseeable future. But if you REALLY want the job, it might just be as simple as asking if the current Queen Mother might want to abdicate the throne.
IF NOT, then we could have a democratic election from the membership. Or we might just settle it in the mud wrestling ring.
Truthfully, the Queen Mother's job involves a lot of unpaid work, and it's quite like herding cats. It's hard.
BUT...y'all are welcome to help our beloved Q.M. with some of the many tasks required to keep this organization purring (to continue the cat metaphor). Just email Jeff and volunteer!
The Phoebe Snow Society has all sorts of activities -- some long term (like our newsletter and web site) and some "special events" (like get-togethers, excursions, etc.) All of us are volunteers and we can always use an extra hand.
Do you like to write or be creative? Then our newsletter or web site might be right for you. Do you like meeting people and socializing? Help arrange one of our social events. Do you have a faaaabulous collection of railroad photos? Share them with other members. Do you have a web site for your own business or organization? Link to the PSS web site.
See? Lots of ways to get involved!
Send your article, announcements, or pictures to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We respect your privacy. PSS tries very hard to be sensitive to those who must stay in the closet. We understand. If we didn't, then we'd lose some of our membership!
Before you are actually allowed to join the PSS, a member (usually the Queen Mother) will contact you and go over the privacy policies. PSS offers (through our web site) a private email account if you so desire, to prevent others from accessing your PSS mail.
The members-only section of our web site and our Yahoo Group are password protected, and membership has to be approved. You are allowed to post as much or as little information about yourself as you wish, some posting their full names, other merely using a "handle" or "screen name". It's your choice.
We also have two kinds of membership on the roster. Regular membership allows you to post a profile of yourself if you welcome other PSS members to contact you. Maybe they'll be in your area and wish to get a cup of coffee and talk trains, or take a trolley ride! You are not REQUIRED to post a profile, but contact between members is one major benefit of PSS. It's great to make new friends who might be in your area and have the same interests!
Our other membership is "non published" and you won't appear on any roster that is distributed, only on the PSS master file. If someone should want to contact you directly, it has to go thru the Queen Mother, and he'll forward your request discreetly, and it will be up to the "non pub" member if he wishes to respond. We respect your privacy!
We request that you don't go "non pub" unless there is a very urgent need for it. Out of our entire membership, currently only 8 are non pub and 2 of those are ready to get on the roster very shortly.
If you have further questions or concerns about privacy, please contact the Queen Mother.
It's not required but is encouraged. That's the best way members have to get to know you. Tell us about yourself and your interests. Tell us where you are located and the best way to contact you if it's allowed. It's easier to become friends that way.
If you need to update any information on your profile, then you'll need to send in an entirely new one, as they are scanned as a complete document and things like phone number changes or email changes cannot be done individually at this time.
Neither our web site nor Yahoo group is strictly moderated. We pretty much allow any posting (unless it's really off track) without censorship. In the past, it has proven not to be a problem, as even though the topics stray from time to time, eventually they all swing back to gay railfanning topics sooner or later.
Likewise the photographs posted have not been pornographic, but remember we do require all members of PSS to be at least 18.
Adult themes are not actively discouraged, but this is primarily a good group of friends, not a porno site. There are plenty of other venues for that sort of thing.
Having said that, if your workplace discourages certain language or terms, "adult words" do occasionally creep into our discussions.
Okay, but I still don't have a computer at home, and don't want to take a chance at work, so can I be a member anyway?
Yes! You can have things like the rosters and newsletters printed out and mailed to you. Although they won't be in color, and you'll miss out on the photograph albums and messages that members post on our PSS web site and Yahoo group.
We also ask for an extra donation to cover the added expense of printing and mailing. (also see "dues" question)
We wish. Watching old western movies with trains in
them is about as close as most of us get
"Yahoo!" is a popular online information service, offering
news, games, email, and more. One
PSS uses Yahoo! Groups as a primary message service from
the organization to its members,
Our Yahoo! Group is free and (at least most of us think) easy to use.
The Yahoo! group is joined by invitation only and is limited to members of the Phoebe Snow Society. The Queen Mother issues invitations after a membership application for PSS has been received and the applicant has been contacted either by phone or in person.
The members-only section of this web site also is limited to members of the Phoebe Snow Society. Click on any link in the left-hand column for any of the members-only sections. This takes you to a new page called PSSRAILFAN COMMUNITY SERVER. In the upper right corner of that page click on JOIN. This takes you to the "join" page, fill in all the information and click JOIN NOW. A representative from PSS will approve your application.
I signed up for the Yahoo! group and I'm sick of getting 100 emails a day, but I don't want to stop hearing from the group entirely! What can I do?
You have options available. There's the option to receive every single message. Or you can have a single email -- called a "Daily Digest" -- delivered to you once a day with all the messages from the day indexed so you can pick and choose what you wish to read. Or you can stop the email entirely and just go to our Yahoo! group web site and read them there.
You can change your preferences under: "edit membership" on the Yahoo! site. And you can change them back again any time you wish.
First you have to join PSS. Then, you have to be approved for either (or both) of the web sites to post (as a security measure). Once that's accomplished (and it's EASY) you'll be able to post your favorite photos on either of our sites.
There are different posting instructions for the web site and the Yahoo! group, so we won't get into technicalities here. If you have questions about posting photos, simply send your question to email@example.com and someone will get right back to you!
That's a tough question to answer as the number is changing all the time. Currently, we have over 300 members in seven countries! Our new web site has already gathered many memberships for folks seeking friends
Sometimes, sadly, we lose a member. More often than not, they're still around but have neglected to update any contact information with the Queen Mother.
So...PLEASE notify us of address changes so we can update the files and give an accurate answer to this question!
Sorta. Nothing really formal, as this is a very informal group. However, quite a few members also belong to the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS). We and get together at their annual convention which is held in various locations. It is usually the biggest concentration of PSS members from all over who gather once a year, so it's become our default convention as well.
Do I need to be a member of the National Railway Historical Society to come to the PSS meeting during a convention?
No. PSS usually has one night during the convention week we set aside to gather amongst ourselves and go out for dinner together. We also enjoy riding the excursion trips, but the NRHS sells tickets to its members first, and only to the general public if they don't sell out. However, all are welcome at Phoebe Snow Society events!
Are there Phoebe Snow members in the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society who might get together?
Yes. We do indeed have members in that organization. But so far, we're not aware if they get together at their convention. Sounds like a good idea, though!
Another opportunity for PSS members to meet! All it takes is the initiative to gather up your PSS friends and have a good time! PSS has many model railroaders in its ranks!
And let us know if you have a model of a gay bar or resort on your layout!
Not for us! Although PSS has quite a few active and retired railroaders on it's roster, BY NO MEANS is that a requirement! If you're GLBT and interested in rail transportation in any form, then you're WELCOME! Prototype, modeler, collector, employee, retiree, private car owner, train rider, rail photographer, trolley fans, or just plain railfan -- please give us the benefit of your friendship!
I'm a business owner or represent another gay organization and I'd like to link our web site to PSS.
What are your policies on this?
Thanks for asking! As you know, it benefits both
PSS and your organization or
business to have links to
The Phoebe Snow Society is an international organization with members in seven countries, but our beloved Queen Mother has to live somewhere. Her...um...his mailing address is: The Phoebe Snow Society 274 Quincy Dr Levittown, PA 19057
If you didn't see your question answered above, please e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to answer it, and perhaps add it here for others.