Railroad Stories: Happy Memories of Riding the Rails

Some of the happiest recollections of chilhood involve riding the rails.

| Good Old Days

Some of the happiest recollections of my childhood involve riding the rails. I grew up in a small railroad town during the Depression years. In those days, things were quite different; cars were definitely a luxury item, and not many people owned them. We walked every-where we went.

There was one passenger train that came through town at 7:30 a.m. en route to Indianapolis and returned at 7:30 in the evening. During that time, the railroad issued free passes to their employees, entitling them and their families to ride their trains. So we occasionally went to Indianapolis for the day.

What a treat that was! My mother, brother and I would get up early, eat breakfast and walk the six or seven blocks to the train station. If we were a little early, we would go and sit in the waiting room, which had an atmosphere all its own. Wooden seats with fancy wrought iron dividers defined each person's allotted space.

The telegraph operator had his own little cage where he tapped and received mysterious and important messages. From time to time, he would report the arrival and departure of trains. He also doubled as a ticket agent.

At last, we would hear the whistle of our train and rush out to see it steaming grandly down the track, bell ringing, whistle blowing and the headlight shining like a giant yellow eye. The train crew always waved; they seemed to have a special place in their hearts for children. The conductor would call, "All aboard," and we would climb the magic steps into another world.

The train consisted of the steam engine, one mail car and one passenger car. The seats were covered in a beautiful, bright-green plush material with white linen-like covers on the head rests. The backs of the seats could be pushed forward or backward, so that one or two of us could ride backwards while facing Mother, who preferred riding forward.

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