Railroad Stories: Rode the Train Five Days a Week

As children, we rode the train to and from school every day.

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When I was a child, in the mid-1920s, we lived in an oil camp in Canova, Ark. This was before the days of school buses, so my brother and I rode the train back and forth to school everyday. My parents entrusted my brother with the train fare, which was five cents apiece each way, because he was a couple of years older than me.

One day, after school, when I was 10, my brother was late getting to the train, because he was playing ball. I could hear the train coming and began to cry, thinking I would never get home to see my mother again. Well, lucky for me, a lady from the Salvation Army met the train daily to greet the departing passengers. She saw me crying and asked me what was wrong. I told her my sad story, and she gave me a nickel out of her tambourine, so I could get home.

When I got off the train, Mom saw I was crying and didn't see my brother. She thought something terrible had happened. Of course, I told her, with flowing tears, that it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. My brother ended up walking the five miles home and got a good tongue lashing from my dad, who informed him that it had better never happen again.

This did not pacify me, however, so I kept the tears coming, and to make me feel better, my dad said I could start carrying my own train fare. Well, the next morning, I had fifteen cents in my pocket - ten cents for train fare and five cents to put back in the Salvation Army tambourine.

Now, when my brother and I get together, we talk about our childhood and have many good laughs. This story is just one of the many wonderful memories I have of the "good ole days."

Esta Wills
Wichita, Kan.

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.