Railroad Stories: Loved Passenger Train Travel

Passenger train travel was exciting to child.

| Good Old Days

In the summer of 1941, my mother, father, sisters, grandmother and I enjoyed passenger train travel from Rock Island, Ill., to Oroville, Calif. All his life, my father had been a railroad enthusiast. His growing up years had been spent on a farm in Missouri, but in his heart, he loved trains. He always wore blue-denim bib overalls, a matching railroad cap, and either a blue or red bandanna stuffed in his left hip pocket. And he always carried his watch in the watch pocket of his bibs.

So, when my uncle wrote and told Dad that he could get a job on the logging train that ran up and down the Feather River Canyon in California, Dad didn't hesitate. He packed us up, sold what he could, gave away what he couldn't, and we were on our way.

I was 5 years old, but to me, it was wonderful to watch the countryside whiz by. Seeing the towns and cities come and go at such a rapid speed was truly amazing. I can remember the three of us girls sleeping in an upper berth, Mom and Dad in the lower berth beneath us and Grandmother in the neighboring lower berth.

We pulled the little curtains closed, and it was like a big camp-out to me and my sisters. We talked and giggled most of the night, because we were too excited to sleep. Our parents had to tell us several times to quiet down, because we were getting too loud and disturbing the neighbors.

Mom and Grandma had packed food for our trip. We had fried chicken, sandwiches, boiled eggs, canned pork and beans, and fruit. We ate, told stories and enjoyed each other's company. It was like a great picnic.

When we got to Denver, Dad got off the train to get a newspaper and stopped to talk to a man standing on the platform. He didn't notice when the train began to leave the station, until Mom shouted out the window. Dad began running and almost missed the train.

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