TRAINS THAT I REMEMBER

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One of the things that I always associate with when I return to Florida is the sound of trains, calling across our city, letting us know that they are working their way to a distant destination. In Michigan I live out in the country, and it is very rare for me to see or to hear a train anywhere.  Highways full of semi trucks are the main mode of transportation that we notice as we travel about. The picture that you see here is an old fashioned narrow gauge train, parked in Silverton, Colorado, waiting for delighted tourists to climb aboard on their way to Durango.  I took that train quite a few times.  Whenever we had company from the East they always wanted to see the train.  It was an all day trip and always a great pleasure to its passengers.

But as a child I lived only a block from the railroad tracks that brought 100 boxcar length trains in and out of our city of Muskegon, Michigan.  It was during and after the second World War and every afternoon the long trains would come slowly down the tracks. There was a very deep ditch on each side, with a bank covered with shrubs of oak and sassafrass. My friends and I dug a deep hole into the side of the bank, deep enough for a fort, and then we covered the roof with branches and leaves. We knew when the train was due so we would climb into the fort, and wait for the huge train, which passed us by about eight feet away. The sounds of the squealing brakes, the grinding of the wheels on the track, the sheer terror of the monster as it lumbered on past us, these sounds reverberate in my mind, even to this day. Once you were in the fort, and the train started to pass by, you just hunkered down and waited. The trains were so long because they were filled with supplies for the war.  I don’t think that my mother ever realized just what we were doing because we sure didn’t tell her.  We would play out doors for hours at a time, mostly unsupervised, so we would get away with it.

I remember other trains coming into the city with all of the rides, animals, and equipment for the circus. My dad would take us to the train station where they were unloaded and we walked a mile or so to the open grounds where they were to be set up. This was a big deal for my brother and I. It was always on a Saturday morning, that I recall.

Along about that time there was a terrible accident where a pedestrian was killed by a train close to our street. The roads were blocked off and the whole city mourned. At this time it became more obvious to me just what a train could do to a body. We didn’t go to our fort so much after that.

Other trains that I remember were in Alaska, thru mountains that were filled with deep drop offs, on a narrow gauge track. Spectacular scenery, and a memory to be treasured always. Another trip was in centered in Canada, leaving Ste Saulte Marie, MI, for a day.

The sound of a train in the distance brings back memories of a long ago childhood, and a freer and more simple life. It is good for me to look back, but here I am,  still dreaming and knowing there is more future to come. We can’t remain in the past when we have love right here with us now to enjoy and pleasures to surround us.

 

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NOVEMBER 2018

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One of the pictures I found in Google this morning, signifying the season that has just passed us by, traveling from Michigan to Florida this year. We had a lot of rain this past fall and somehow the colors never seemed as bright as in past seasons. It took a long time for the brightly colored leaves to start falling, which means that we will find a yard full of them when we arrive back in the spring. Not that it really makes much difference, there are always the strays that show up later on, just waiting for the mower to pick them up.

My friends are already sending me pictures of a snow covered landscape at their own home, and lamenting the fact of winter arriving.  But the more avid deer hunters are rejoicing, and hoping for an early winter with lots of snow for tracking. In Michigan there are two main groups of people, people who hunt, and people who don’t. I have lived closely with both, over the years, and there is definitely a line there. Plus we must count all of the bow hunters who have already been searching for some time. Somehow it all works out.  We have lots of people whose meals consist more of venison than you can imagine.  At one time that was true of my household also, and I could cook it in a dozen varied ways. Now I am just reminiscing about bygone days, and remembering how good it tasted.

Florida is looking great.  A  little foggy this morning, but it will clear very quickly and the sun will appear again. It has been a little warmer than I like, hitting in the 80s and 90s but cooler today and a colder front will be showing up next week. As we were walking in the park after dark I could see that all of the snowbirds are not back yet and many homes are dark. But soon lots of our residents will return,  the streets will fill up, and the restaurants will become very busy. By next month we will see many retirees sitting on their front patios greeting us as we go walking by. There will be golf carts everywhere, and two and three wheeled bicycles carrying their owners all around the park.  We have many  flower gardens and ponds with swans and ducks to enjoy.

So there is a lot to look forward to.  I am looking forward to telling you of our adventures as we visit in the south, but still keep the north in our hearts. Living down here is a great experience for us, and I hope that someday all of you will find your place of enjoyment in your future.