Memories of Trains
“And the LORD will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11
This post is different for me but I have been listening to the sounds of trains since we moved to Lufkin. Trains have always delighted me, since I was a young girl.
A number of trains run through this town each and every day. As they move from one end to another, they cross intersections of the town so the horn must be blown.
From our home, we cannot see the train, but it can be heard, especially when the wind is out of the north and northeast. Clear and loud…these sounds make me smile. Take a short listen of what it (almost) sounds like for me (just listening to the beginning is enough to hear what I hear, except I am further away):
The train was endearing for me as a little girl. When I was young, we lived on a Naval hospital base, about 4 miles from a railroad track. When Daddy got home from work at the hospital, he would pile 2 of us girls in the car, go down to the tracks and wait for the five-something o’clock train (letting Mom get dinner without the 2 older kids while the youngest, being an infant, was napping). We loved to wave to the engineer and he would blow that horn for us. I was in early elementary school so counting the cars was a great exercise for my brain. Of course, my sister (3 years younger) wanted to imitate me so she was learning to count too. The train draws me back to those younger days and times with my father.
While living there in this small town, the second graders got to go to the San Diego Zoo for a field trip. We lived a bit over 100 miles away. We boarded buses early in the morning, taking us to the Riverside, CA train station. From there we boarded the train to San Diego. We spent the better part of the day at the zoo after a wonderful train ride. Then back on the train to Riverside and buses to home. What a great field trip! That was 63 years ago and I remember it as if it were yesterday!
When my Daddy became very ill, my parents sent us from Washington, D.C. (where he was stationed) to Boston on the train for a couple of weeks to vacation with some family friends. The three of us girls rode together, alone. I was 12 and my sisters were 9 and 6 at the time. We thought we had grown up…riding the train without our parents. We ate on the train, turned our tickets into the conductor, walked through a couple of cars, and watched people. Fun for us and helped us forget how sick Daddy was.
I lived in Washington, D.C. twice in my life. For the adult period, I was teaching in the DC Public Schools. Union Station became a favorite place for me. I would change subways there, catching the Red Line. I would often go upstairs for a minute, above the underground rails, before catching that homeward-bound train, just to see the beautiful old station. At Christmas, they would have a few concerts in the Main Hall. Oh my, it was so beautiful and wonderful!
During the 1980s, retail stores and restaurants began to be added in several areas of the station. I returned to our Capital in 2013. I was so saddened by the transformation that had happened to Union Station between 1989 and 2013…crowded with people, stores, cafes, island-type tiny shops. It was so noisy. What was once a gorgeous station was no more. BUT…the Federal Railroad Administration and the State Historic Preservation Office stepped in and by May 2016, the Main Hall has been renovated back to the way it had been. Oh, how glad I am to see this picture and the way it is NOW…again!
Kenneth and I have been on a few trains drawn by steam engines…delightful rides through lovely scenery too.
Here is just an example of the sounds which they are famous for, and make me smile!
The Metro Subway in Washington, D.C. gives me pleasure in a different sense than a train…smooth, mellow, fast or slow, light or dark depending on where I am on the line. The subway became my main transportation while I lived and worked there. I rode the bus too as I had no car. I liked that.
The sounds and feelings of trains and subways are so special to me. I just love them.
A.B. Simpson (1843 – 1919) wrote: “God is looking for men on whom He can put the weight of all His love and power and faithful promises. God’s engines are strong enough to draw any weight we attach to them. Unfortunately the cable which we fasten to the engine is often too weak to hold the weight of our prayer; therefore God is drilling us, disciplining us to stability and certainty in the life of faith. Let us learn our lessons and stand fast.”
And a sweet hymn to offer before we go today:
“Life Is Like A Mountain Railroad”
Author: Eliza Roxey Snow 1804-1887; Author: M. E. Abbey (Minister in GA in 1890s)
…that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide forever. Psalm 48:14 (guiding Scripture for hymn)
Life is like a mountain railroad,
With an engineer that’s brave;
We must make the run successful,
From the cradle to the grave;
Watch the curves, the fills, the tunnels;
Never falter, never quail;
Keep your hand upon the throttle,
And your eye upon the rail.
Train in Lufkin, TX: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=19&v=QYB9jWOalYI
Santa Fe Station in San Diego, CA – postcard “CALIFORNIA San Diego – Santa Fe Train Station, Bekins 1950s” http://neplains.com/californiasandiego-santafetrainstationbekins1950s.aspx
Outside the San Diego station: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tall_dude/3175800704
Steam Locomotive: Bells and Whistles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=utg0tK7cDbE
Metro Subway: https://www.eiseverywhere.com/ehome/2012ALC/dc/
Metro Map: http://www.railfanguides.us/dc/metro/