Chessie, the sleepy and cuddly little cat, and by extension, the railroad system that adopted her as a trademark and has become -- realized by us or not -- a big part of our lives, has found an heiress who has returned for another year. We just received next year's calendar from the Chessie System Railroads that features Gypsy, pictured above, about whom more later.

Washington is hemmed in by Chessie System Railroads. The Baltimore & Ohio comes in from the north and through Maryland from the west; the Chesapeake & Ohio gets here through Virginia from the west, and Chessie's front office, which has the awful Star Wars cognomen of CSX Corp., refers to the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac (with a northern terminal at Alexandria) as part of its brood, although it doesn't own the RF&P outright.

The original Chessie was a nice, if mythical, kitty. She was supposedly born 51 years ago, an advertising symbol promoting C&O sleeping car service when serving passengers was a big part of running a railroad.

Gypsy, whose picture tops this column, was a Chessie look-alike who was adopted by Chessie System folks at the company's public relations headquarters in Cleveland. She posed for a lot of the cutest railroad-theme pictures you'd ever want to see, including the railroad conductor theme pictured above.

Metro Scene isn't in the mail order business, but the flood of responses from last year's references to the Chessie calendar induces me to say how you could get one: $5.95 to Chessie Calendar, Box 6419, Cleveland, OH 44101.