A Final Hour on the Farm Where I Was Raised

| 3/2/2015 12:50:00 PM

Tags: Railroad Track, Trestle, Pumpcars, Washta, Iowa, Correctionville, Iowa, Little Sioux River, Little Sioux River Valley, Memories, Herding Cattle, Silos, Mary Conley,

Mary ConleyDear friends, 

Do you still get to visit your childhood home? I’m 73 and the youngest in my family. My parents have been gone for several years, and the farm where I was raised was sold long ago. We just passed it on the way to visit relatives a few days ago, taking in all that has stayed the same, as well as the changes. I always look forward to seeing it, but then so many emotions start flooding in, I tear up, and almost wish I hadn’t. If I could, though, I know without a doubt which part of the farm I would love to relive again. Even for an hour or so. The railroad track.

A few years ago, I decided to write short stories of my life to pass down to our children. It surprised me how many of those memories involved the railroad track.

Our farm was in the Little Sioux River Valley 1 1/2 miles south of Washta, Iowa, and the track ran parallel to the farm, highway 31, and the hills. I wrote about walking on the rails and ties, and riding our pony in the safety of the surrounding ditches. There was an exciting summer my cousin, Gary, and I spent Sundays in the slimy water under the trestle witnessing the gradual change of tadpoles. We always acknowledged to each other when we heard the sound of the train that passed once a day, and I often waved to the friendly men who pumped the handcar checking the track between Correctionville and Washta. Occasionally, a black man helped repair the track; he was the first person of color I had seen in small-town Iowa.

And, it was while wandering along the railroad track as a young girl that I looked at the hills and decided there must be a God who made it all.


3/15/2015 1:07:32 PM

I guess this is my day for memory lane. This blog, too, brought back memories. We didn't herd our cows along the tracks but for some reason we kids spent a lot of time there looking for rocks on the track bed and poking at crawdads and tadpoles - same as you - in the culvert. Our tracks are still there but there land around is barely recognizable with the growth of subdivisions and industry. Thomas Mann said you can't go home again and I believe it's because home no longer exists. Just in our minds. Which is fine enough.

3/11/2015 7:38:08 AM

Thanks for commenting, Amy. Your dad & I enjoyed your memory as well, and I pictured you all as kids again!

3/10/2015 7:56:18 PM

Mom, I could picture it all as I read your post. We kids loved to run down the lane to play on the tracks. I remember trying to balance on the rails and testing the spikes to see what loose ones we could pull out. I'm sure you and Dad were thrilled with the many spikes we brought home in the car and left in the garage.

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