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BS: A memorable train journey

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alanabit 31 Mar 06 - 04:03 AM
Bobert 31 Mar 06 - 07:15 PM
Amos 31 Mar 06 - 07:39 PM
Bobert 31 Mar 06 - 08:06 PM
Bert 31 Mar 06 - 08:08 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 31 Mar 06 - 09:43 PM
catspaw49 31 Mar 06 - 10:27 PM
freda underhill 31 Mar 06 - 10:52 PM
catspaw49 31 Mar 06 - 11:03 PM
freda underhill 31 Mar 06 - 11:10 PM
freda underhill 31 Mar 06 - 11:27 PM
GUEST,Paul Burke 01 Apr 06 - 04:43 AM
Leadfingers 01 Apr 06 - 06:04 AM
catspaw49 01 Apr 06 - 08:34 PM
alanabit 02 Apr 06 - 03:31 AM
open mike 02 Apr 06 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,dianavan 02 Apr 06 - 03:05 PM
katlaughing 02 Apr 06 - 03:28 PM
cryptoanubis 02 Apr 06 - 06:01 PM
Joybell 03 Apr 06 - 02:33 AM
alanabit 03 Apr 06 - 02:40 AM
cryptoanubis 03 Apr 06 - 04:51 AM
GUEST,DB 03 Apr 06 - 06:18 AM
Micca 03 Apr 06 - 07:16 AM
catspaw49 03 Apr 06 - 08:05 AM
catspaw49 03 Apr 06 - 08:29 AM
Amos 03 Apr 06 - 09:26 AM
alanabit 03 Apr 06 - 09:46 AM
cryptoanubis 03 Apr 06 - 06:39 PM
Joybell 03 Apr 06 - 07:02 PM
Bert 03 Apr 06 - 07:34 PM
GUEST,Joe_F 03 Apr 06 - 08:31 PM
The Shambles 04 Apr 06 - 06:24 PM

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Subject: BS: A memorable train journey
From: alanabit
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 04:03 AM

There are some lovely threads here, often opened by Jerry Rasmussen, about those commonplace things, which enrich your life so much. His kitchen table thread is a case in point.
I wonder what your most interesting train journey was? Mine is easy. Some years ago, I was travelling back to England by train from Cologne. At Aachen, a tall, slim, dignified man in his seventies got on the train, after taking leave of a women, whom he addressed in perfect German. It was my very good fortune that he sat opposite me and a conversation opened, which held me enthralled all the way back to London.
He had been visiting Aachen to go back to some old haunts, which he had first come to know during The Battle of the Bulge. He had been a young Military Intelligence officer at the time. Some forty years later, he had just discovered that a word, which had persistently recurred in the German coded messages, was an actual place name.
Doctor John Bitter was actually a musician, who returned after the war, to conduct the Gürzenich Orchestra of Köln. He went on to conduct at La Scala. I asked him why he had given it up and his reply began with the words,"Well, I realised I was never going to get to the top...."
The conversation ranged over the war, music, Shakespeare and a host of other subjects. I helped the seventy eight year old man off the train with his luggage at Victoria and never heard of him again.
I wish I could meet someone that fascinating every time I got on a train! Still, there has been more than one train ride, which was made more interesting by meeting someone.
Does anyone out there have a story?

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: Bobert
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 07:15 PM

Well, I wish I could top yer story, Alan, but my most memerable train journey occued when I was about 14 years old...

Like most 14 year old wise-to-the-worlders I knew it all and had done everything except hop a frieght train... So Jim Clark, Jerry Christain and I decided that it was time to take care of that last remaining feat, other than getting laid, that a 14 year old could honestl;y say that he's "done it all"...

Now there's something seriously wrong with the wiring of most 14 year old boys 'cause they really don't think, ahhhh, long range.... So the three of us took the bus to Alexandria, Va. where the freight yard was and walked down the tracks aways so as to not be seen and just sat there in a wooded area watching up the tracks for the sign of any trains that looked hop-able... Well, we'd been there what seemed like days, which for excitable boys of 14 was probably more like an hour when a train did come lumbering in out direction heading south... To be honest it was barely movin' and when it finally got toward us it was moving about as fast as we could walk...

Now, I'd sure nuff like to be tellin' a story about jumping up into a box car but them doors is purdy danged high to get in but a flat car did come along and we had no problem gettin' on the danged thing and so there we were, ridin' south on a dirt flat car...A few miles south of Alexandria the train picked up some speed and purdy soon we was rollin' down them tracks maybe 50 mph or so...

There's a point in every 14 year old boy when he realizes that perhaps he doesn't know everything in the world and I'm here to say that point in time came upon all three of us at the same time as in "Oh, Sheeeit!" I mean, here we were, hangin' onto a dirty flat car headin' to who-knows-where at 50 miles an hour and ya' know what, our parents are gonna be good and p.o.'d, that is if we aver see them again??? Who knows? Maybe this train is going to Brazil, or Egypt, or worse, Russia and we're going to have to work in Siberian salt mines for a buck a week??? Lotta stuff goes thru a 14 year old's mind once he has crossed that most important threshold... No, not getting laid, gol dangit. Learning that yer parents might be smarter than you??? Horrors!!!!

So this thing had been thumpin', rollin', bumpin' for about an hour and half when it started to slow down ever so slowly until it wasn't moving much faster than it was when we hopped it in Alexandria so not wanting to end up workin' for a buck in a Siberian salt mine we decided maybe we should just get the heck off and see where we were???

Well, where we were was in the woods and we could hear cars not far off but there was a steep hill to climb to get to it and I remember vividly scratching and clawing every inch of that hill, grabbing exposed tree roots and whatever but we made it to the top and could see up, as in north, the road a truck stop in the distance... Now that truck stop sho nuff looked like an oasis and we walked to it, asked a trucker where the Hell we were and found that we were just north of Fredricksburg, Va...

Back in those days hitch-hiking was an honorable profession... Heck, we did it all the time so we jst stuck out out now humbled 14 year old thumbs and made it back home before dark...

"So, son, what'd you do today?"

"Awwww, you know, just messed around, Dad"

Sad but true story about Bobert as a 14 year old...


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: Amos
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 07:39 PM

My, that's a FINE story, Bobert! Jes' FINE!! You can claim to have hopped a freight when you first ran away from home!! Priceless advantage when old age finally creeps up on ya, and you have nothing left but the telling of over-inflated adventure tales!


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: Bobert
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 08:06 PM

No, Amos, my old frined... We hadn't thought far enough that mornin' to the runnin'-away-from-home scene, jus' the hoppin' the freight scene....

But now come to think of it kinda rivals Bobert's not-one-but-two runnin'-away-from-home stories, neither of which turned out as planned...


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: Bert
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 08:08 PM

I was five, and the powers that be, that wonderful English Government, decided that it was dangerous for kids to be living in the London area.

Now this was 1944 and the worst of the blitz was already over, but they still decided that the kids had to get out of town. Our school was allocated to the town of Wrexham in North Wales.

So, on the fateful day we were packed up with our suitcases and gas masks and put aboard a train. The local grocer, bless him, had provided every kid with a packed lunch with a sandwich, an apple and an orange. I don't know how he got around rationing, perhaps he collected coupons or maybe he worked a fiddle, I don't know.

The train was virtually non stop to Wrexham. At least I don't remember stopping, guess they didn't want to risk any kids getting off. I was luckier than a lot of the kids because I was with my older sister aged seven. Most of the poor brats were travelling alone.

They must have opened up some little used lines in the North East of London because we didn't have to change at Fenchurch Street.

Somehow word had got a round that there was a train load of evacuees because on the trip through London it seemed that everyone was at their back windows waving at us (Houses usually backed onto the railway).

Of course, time came I had to go for a pee. So I took off alone up the corridor to find the lavatory. Well you can just imagine what state they were in, a non stop train load of kids, Yeuch! Eventually I came upon one that was marginally useable. When I'd finished I headed back along the corridor to find my sister - the wrong way of course, I'd got turned around somehow, Hey I was only five, I didn't think about which way the train was moving.

So I go tramping off up the corridor, on and on, not finding her and it was a bloody long train. I knew I'd find her sometime but I was still lonely and scared. Eventally I got to the end of the train and realised what had happened so I had to go all the way back, of course it was further this time and although I knew that I was headed in the right direction now, I was still bloody scared.

Eventually I found her and she was worried because I'd been gone for so long.

I don't remeber much else about the journey, but I thought I'd share these memories with you.


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 09:43 PM

Great stories! I'm afraid that I've already told mine on the Bus stories thread I started (which segued into train stories, too.) I posted to this thread earlier by my post disappeared into the ether, apparently. I think Mudcat was in the litter box about the time I clicked "Submit Messaage."

Good on you for starting this thread, Alan. Wonderful adventures can occur in the most mundane environment... on a train or bus trip, or just walking down the street. Even on Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: catspaw49
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 10:27 PM

These are just great gang! Wonderful memories. I love trains.

Ya' see I was the son of an Engineer.......technically they are "Enginemen" as opposed to the other definition of engineer. Dad hired out on the section gang with the Pennsy in 1937 when he graduated high school. Dennison was a railroad town and back then railroading was a very respectable profession with good union and good pay. Then of course there was just the respect and awe that railroaders were held in back in those days.

He went into Engine Service in 1940 , served in a railway battallion in WWII and came back to work on the Pennsylvania Railroad...for the entirety of his life. He loved running freight and preferred it over the regularity of passenger service. I think there was something about moving 140 cars smoothly at speed that got to him where he lived. My Mom on the other hand hated it!

It was no way to run a family, or like none she was used to anyway. But Margie was an early "liberated woman." A "Rosie" during WWII, she worked at Timken Roller Bearing in Canton. She was musically talented beyond belief, very intelligent, very independent, and an only child of a family that was not rich, but certainly not hurting for money either. But then when she was 24 she fell in love with this railroader from the "wrong side of the tracks" and life became really entertaining! You could never plan anything because Dad might or might not be home. It drove her nuts but she loved him and he loved her. I never questioned that one thing in my childhood although I questioned everything else. They were truly in love. She'd throw a fit, he'd make her laugh. When she died, he was lost.

But what of the train trip?

Okay.......Back then, Pennsy employees families had Passes to ride anywhere at anytime. We liived in a small Ohio town that had once been a major rail yard and station but was now closed down with the runs on the Panhandle Division going between Pittsburgh and Columbus. Every month or so, we'd go to Columbus and every few months to Pittsburgh. This was big around Christmas of course and as a kid there was nothing much finer than visiting those cities when they were decorated for Christmas. My world was a lot smaller then and I remember asking a conductor friend (most of the guys were known to me and many were from my town like my Dad) if we were out of Ohio yet when we were only halfway to Columbus. But one trip sticks in my mind above the rest.

I was 13 or so and one early summer morning the Old Man says, "Hey....Wanna' take a train trip?" I agreed right away and before you knew it we were downtown Columbus (we had moved to a Columbus suburb when I was 10) at Union Station and hopping a train for Indianapolis. Now I had been to Indy by car to watch cars, but to ride the rails there was completely different. I have no idea what inspired the Ol' Man but off we went. We ate in the dining car both ways, wandered around Indy with no specific destination or reason and went to a movie..."The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." We also went to a few shops until we found this beautiful crystal rose bowl, etched with roses, which we bought for my Mom.

We arrived back home pretty late and I was worn out but anxious to give my Mom her gift. She loved it of course and even if she hadn't, I would never have known. I would bring her baskets of lavender from every county and state fair I went to my entire life. Remember those? Little baskets filled with lavender you used as sachets in drawers. Every drawer in our house stunk of lavender because I was the pipeline.....bringing something home to my Mom that always made her happy.   The night she died, Dad and I were talking and he said, "Son, she would never say anything to you, but she hated lavender."   But on that night we got home from Indy, I think what she liked best was me and Dad having a good time together. Dad was always gone more so our time together was less.

I know that's not much of a story, but my entire childhood was somehow inextricably tied to trains because of Dad and where we lived so picking any one story isn't easy and most of them are pretty boring......except to me. So thanks for hanging in this long.


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: freda underhill
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 10:52 PM

In the 80s, I remember travelling third class on an Indian train from Calcutta to Varanasi. We were pretty comfortable, talking, taking our packed lunch and watching the villages and rice fields outside. A woman sitting across from me took out HER packed lunch (a big bag of peanuts)and sat and ate the whole bag, throwing the empty shells on the floor between us.

In the evening, we slept along the seats, our feet sticking out into the corridor. I ket waking up through the night - someone kept tickling the soles of my feet! (I never did work out who).

The worst part of the trip was the toilet - basically a hole in the floor of a small carriage, surrounded by mementos from those who had missed their aim on the bouncing train. It was disgusting - I decided to wait until the end of the trip.   the next morning, waiting was no longer possible - and so I left my own mementos somewhere on the train track to Varanasi.

Varanasi was worth it - a beautiful, ancient city of temples lining the Ganges. I swam in the Ganges at dawn, and took a boat along the river to see the sunrise, and to be greeted by the joyful leaps of the ganges dolphins!


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: catspaw49
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 11:03 PM

Ya' know Freda, there was this guy on an American train had the same problem with the toilet facilities in the car he was riding in. His solution was to hang his ass out the window!

Well he did and when he "let fly" with his load, there were two drunken bums walking along the tracks and they were both knocked flat by the sixty mile per hour shit. As they got to their feet, one says, "Gawddam!!! That's some kinda' awful smellin' tobacky that guy was chewin'!!!"

The other agreed but then added, "Yeah man, but did you see the lips on that motherfucker?"


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: freda underhill
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 11:10 PM

naughty! :-)

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: freda underhill
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 11:27 PM

another memorable trip (with better facilities) was taking the old Indian-Pacific train from Perth to Sydney. This is the world's longest straight stretch of railway track (478 kilometres), from one side of Australia to the other. (from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean!) The journey from Perth to Sydney covers 4352kms and takes 3 days and 3 nights. I still remember looking out the window at the vast red Nullarbor Plain, travelling across the vast inland desert and every few hours seeing a bit of grey weed sticking out of the desert.

The wedge tailed eagles in this desert have a wingspan of up to two metres.

Luckily I had taken some good books!


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 01 Apr 06 - 04:43 AM

Tralee to Dublin in 1979. The bloke who sat facing us across the table had obviously enjoyed the licensed facilities of the city. As soon as the train started, he staggered to the buffet car and bought a plate of egg, chips and beans, and a large glass of milk. Placed them on the table in front of him, and stared at them, swaying slightly, for the next three- quarters of an hour. Then picked up the milk, poured it over the now- congealed food, and slumped head down into the resulting mess. And slept soundly, snoring slightly, for the remainder of the journey.

Arriving at Dublin, he woke up and precessed, his face covered in now looked like warpaint, along the platform, and disappeared no doubt to find the nearest place of refreshment.

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Apr 06 - 06:04 AM

Terry Docherty , who built my mandolin , had a memmorable train trip , which inspired him to re write Leon Rathbones 'Relax'- a song I sing fairly regularly still . I hate to think what the trip was like
but I gather it was a relatively short journey that finished up taking about seventeen hours ! Cracking song came out of it though !

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: catspaw49
Date: 01 Apr 06 - 08:34 PM

Alan, when I look at that cover photo on your CD I think you are just bound to have another story or two yourself. Tell us one and I'll tell you another in return.


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: alanabit
Date: 02 Apr 06 - 03:31 AM

I'll have a go Spaw. It isn't directly a train story, but trains are bound to come into the life of a young busker - especially when he can't afford a car and is wandering around Europe, trying to learn his trade.
I had spent a week in Basel, Switzerland, in the early eighties. I had met the amazing Phil Free, probably the greatest street comedian I will ever see. The week had been a lot of fun and I had been hanging out, learning a lot about life as well as busking. However, the first target of the busker is to make money - and I had not done that for a week.
I got the midnight train out of Basel and bought a ticket for as far up the track as I could afford to go. It was Mannheim, less than half way back to Köln. I settled down to grab three hours of uncomfortable sleep. Having barely got my eyes shut, I had to get out and change at Karlsruhe (or somewhere like that). At any rate, I emerged bleary eyed in Mannheim Station at twelve minutes past three. I then had a wait of seven hours before there were enough people around to make it worth attempting a set in the pedestrian precinct of Mannheim.
I started the set. As my show was built on energy and comedy, it was not a very good start. One or two bored men and children stood around while their wives hunted for shoes or tomatoes from the market. Nothing was happening. Only something was. I noticed some activity behind me, quickly realising that a stage and PA was being set up for theatre performance. To understand my attitude problem, you have to remember that this was a very tired, unwashed and hungy alanabit. When one of the techs spoke to me, I could not quite catch what he said. (My German was even worse then). I snapped,"So I supposed it's time for me to fuck off then, is it?"
Back came a friendly smile and some good English, "No. I said if you liked, you could use our stage while we are waiting to start the show..."
It is amazing how a bit of kindness and good luck can cure an attitude problem, isn't it? Ten minutes later, alanabit had a crowd of three hundred people in front of him. The crowd laughed and sang and the director then asked me to go onstage between the gaps in the show. The actors collected money in the hat for me themselves. Two hours later, I had acquired two hundred Marks, two gigs and a new girlfriend.
You never know what you will find at the end of that train ride...

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: open mike
Date: 02 Apr 06 - 01:22 PM

there are some folks from Bellows Falls VT
who organize train trips whifch often feature
a friend of mine just got back from going
to the copper canyon in mexico with a
bunch of singers and song writers and
cowboy musicians. this was very memorable
for him...i got to see the pictures--
it loooked like fun. (noy MY memories)

There is a trip across canada this fall
with another group of musicians, many who
specialize in cowboy songs...

one train trip that was really literalyy
a "trip" would have been the festival express
i hope to see the movie some day..
the grateful dead, janis joplin and other
wild and crazy folks were on it. Perhaps
this is the train adventure which has
inspired the flying under radar folks.

sometimes these days when you book a train trip
in the u.s. you end up travelling most or all of
it on a bus, which can sometimes be dissapointing
as the train tracks go thru more remote and scenic
areas than the highways the busses must travel on.

the feather river canyon near me used to be the
route the California zephyr took on the way across
the country...perhaps chicago was the eastern terminal

they no longer send passenger trains thru the canyon,
due to rock slides and potential unstable soil. that
does not stop the nuke trains with radioactive waste
from using that route, though. go figure.

i rode the train to san diego from northern california.
the most memorable part was when the engineer talked
to us about the scenery, and wildlife that we could
see out the window...he told us about wild boars and
mountain lions near vandenburg air force base.

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: GUEST,dianavan
Date: 02 Apr 06 - 03:05 PM

I used to travel by train from Seattle to Kelso to visit my grandmother. This started when I was about nine years old. I was a regular passenger and talked to anyone and everyone. I loved being so grown up. That train took about four hours and stopped at every little town in between. I usually took what was called the milk run.

I can still hear the conductor calling out, "Chehalis, Centralia ..."

My favorite train is the midnight train from Genoa to Paris. Its totally covered in the most amazing graffiti I have ever seen.

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Apr 06 - 03:28 PM

Wonderful stories, folks. Spawdarlin'...I was hoping to find you in here, knowing about your dad and all. What beautiful memories.

I must've been about 3 or 4 when my mom and I rode what we called the "Toon-a-ville Trolley" (may have been "Tooner-ville")from Casper, WY to Denver, CO to see my grandma. This train was OLD. I think it still had woodstoves for heat. The thing I remember the most about it was there was an older girl, traveling alone, who was named "Betty" just like my oldest big sister and my hero(ine.) I was so impressed with that, I don't remember much about the trip, except it was winter and I was enthralled.

I've two more, one when I was 13...I'll tell them a little later.

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: cryptoanubis
Date: 02 Apr 06 - 06:01 PM

I was a train driver , back about eight years ago (seems like a life time ago).
Theres something about being on a diesal engine hauling freight at three in the morning , moon hanging low in the sky makes you want to sing old train songs , hey!

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: Joybell
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 02:33 AM

Hey dusty. Welcome aboard.
Cheers, Joy

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: alanabit
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 02:40 AM

That's a great name for a driver, Dusty. Welcome on board here.

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: cryptoanubis
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 04:51 AM

Thanks joybell and alanabit , hope the journeys a good one....
Theres lots of stories from the front end , some that probably shouldn,t be told !!!
Yeah definetely don't want the passengers to know what goes on up there!

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 06:18 AM

Well, I never 'jumped a freight car' like Bobert (what a wonderful story!). My train story is much more prosaic. As a child I lived in Peterborough, UK - which is on the main London to Ediburgh line. In the early 60s there were still steam trains (I'm sure that someone will be able to tell me the exact year that they were replaced). Our class went on an outing to London to visit the British Museum and see a Shakespeare play (Macbeth, I think) at the 'Old Vic'. The main thing I remember about this trip is that the sausages, that we had for lunch, in Lyons Corner House, were exactly the same colour as the Egyptian mummies in the British Museum! On the way back the train broke down and our teacher managed to procure a crate of fizzy pop to keep the troops from getting fractious. I also remember walking down the corridor and 'colliding' with a cloud of garlic as an Italian family, in a carriage with the door open, tucked into a meal of salami and bread; as a British child, brought up in the 50s, garlic was very strange and unfamiliar.

I realise that I'm dimly recalling a lost world here - steam trains and Lyons Corner Houses all long gone - and everyone eats garlic now. Not sure if the 'Old Vic' still exists but, if it does, it's probably not the red velvet, tasseled, Victorian place that I recall (anyone know?).

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: Micca
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 07:16 AM

It was late 1967, my ship, by a totally unexpected set of circumstances was delayed berthing near London, we arrived on Friday lunchtime and the berth wasn't ready for us until Monday morning so we got a whole weekend off to go home. For me this was back to London. So I rolled in at 5 Pm Friday evening to have my sister grab me and say, "Just the man, have you any plans for the w/e?" well as this leave had been so unexpected I had none. She then said "Fancy a trip with me tomorrow?" well I was rightly suspicious as she had got me into things this way before that had always been expensive or bad for me, so I sorta carefully said Ok. She then took the wind out of my sails completely with " I am going to see our father why don't you come too" My father lived North of Newcastle on Tyne and I had seen him once that I could remember in my life when I was thirteen years old and he had visited us in Ireland. I was at this point 22 years old. My Sis was very persuasive and so I agreed to go, on the understanding that I had to travel back overnight Saturday night to bring my ship alongside to be ready for discharging first thing Monday morning.
At 7 am the next morning my regretting caught up with me as I was hauled from bed and dragged off to Kings Cross station to catch the 8 o clock "Flying Scotsman". Sorry, No Not the famous steam train but they called the trains doing this run to Edinburgh after it (and still do). We had a very comfortable trip having breakfast on the train, lots of Tea, freshly cooked bacon and eggs, mushrooms and Fresh tomatoes and lots of toast, memorable in itself, not like the rubbish, precooked and microwaved stuff you get now. After a pleasant 4 hour journey through Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster, York and Darlington, along the famous steam train route, we arrived in Newcastle and were met by some young men that I had heard a little about but nothing definite, but as soon as I saw them I knew the truth, these were my 3 half-brothers and that they were of the same bloodline there was NO doubt at all.
We then had a 2 hour bus Journey to where my father and his "other family" lived. I was very apprehensive, after all the things that had been said and unsaid and the predictable bitterness I had picked up from my mother ( she had conveyed her disapproval of this trip subtly but very clearly, making it feel very much like some kind of betrayal) I was hoping for answers and to have my curiosity satisfied including the sudden acquisition of 4 "brothers" one of whom was 6 months younger than me!!. I had, as far as I was concerned, and with the "clear vision" of youth never had a "Father" but I wanted the chance to inspect the horns and the tail myself, and gain some perspective, I was after all a "young man of the World " in 1960's England.
When we got to the house what I found was a frail old man, my father, but of whom I knew nothing. I spent the afternoon in his company (I realised later that the others must have been warned to leave us alone) just talking and trying to get to know each other a little. He was fragile, after an car accident that had aged him and was in the end, a stranger. So I tried to spend some time looking "at" him (the "Reality") not "for" him ("The Father figure").
At about 7 pm I got back on the bus and went back to Newcastle to catch the train back to London at 10.30pm it took a slow route and got in at 6 am the next morning. This was the memorable journey. I had so much to think about, it threw so many different views and sidelights on things from childhood and growing up that I had not understood. It filled in the gaps about my parents and, to an extent, why my mother was, and needed to be, so strong why she was so bitter sometimes too. It told me things about myself and why I was as I was and why I might need to take a look at my own attitudes and direction. It was a long night of discovery through the darkness.

Epilogue I got back ok and we sailed early Tuesday back to sea, on what turned out to be my last trip, as I "swallowed the anchor" came ashore for good in January of 1968, We were a day out of Antwerp when a radio message came from my sister that he had died. So an almost chance trip gave me something beyond price. Closure(of sorts).

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 08:05 AM

Glad to see you here Dusty. My Dad came from a time when there were a lot more trains, a lot more track, and full crews to run them. He was a real believer in "6 eyes on the windshield" which was possible back then. He died before the railroads had been reduced to the minimalistic standards of today. He would have hated this.

But he too had some great tales of things that went on in the cab and on the job in general. I'll not tell those here but I promised Alan another trip story so here goes. Dad was known as a "Smooth Rider" meaning he gave the caboose guys a smooth ride which was no easy feat. If you figure that 100 cars can easily vary 100 feet or more in length depending on slack, then knowing how to move that train and knowing the road can make a big difference to those guys on the rear end not to mention the pulling drawbars. It is the "knowing the road" part that my story is about.

Maybe about a month before he died we were talking in his bedroom one day about his job. He knew that he'd never make another run but in that way we all want to deny what is coming, I went on as if he were going back to work in a few weeks. He talked about the younger new hires not knowing the road and not learning it as he thought they should so I asked him about it in depth. "The Road" was the 200 or so miles of track from the Columbus Yards to the yards outside of Pittsburgh, Pitcairn and Conway. And so began the strangest but most interesting trip I ever took and I never left the bedroom.

He began by describing the series of tracks, switches, and signals, leading out of the Buckeye Yard to East Columbus and then describing the grade out to Summit Station. He included track condition, speed limits, crossings, switches and sidings, block signals, etc.......and because I was generally familiar with the area, it was easy to visualize. He continued on through Heath and the dangerous crossings at the oil refineries there and then down through "52 Cut" at Riverside, through Dennison, Jewett, Mingo Junction across the Ohio River and on into the Conway Yards. This journey took about an hour and a half but we well covered the miles that took 8 to 12 in real time.

I think that was the first time I ever recognized just how smart the Ol' Man was. I had often heard about someone knowing something as well as the back of their hand but this was the first time I saw that in action.......and out of my Dad. I've never forgotten that trip and after over 30 years I still miss him.....W.J. "Unk" Patterson, Engineman on the Pennsylvania Rail Road from 1937-1973.


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 08:29 AM

Wonderful story Micca! I was getting the kids off to school so mine took awhile and I missed seeing yours.

It may not all be exactly what you were after Alan but you are getting some great stuff on this thread......or at least I'm enjoying it!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: Amos
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 09:26 AM

Beautiful tale yourself, SPaw! Thanks, both! This is the stuff that makes us rich.


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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: alanabit
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 09:46 AM

Me too Spaw. Keep 'em coming.

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: cryptoanubis
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 06:39 PM

Thanks Catspaw,
Your dad was one of the old timers , i certainly remember their tales and yes knowing the road was a very important part of the job , i was fortunate to be on the job when it still meant something those were the days of two man loco crews and the guard (brakeman) swinging on the back , then came , Battery operated guard and those days were gone....

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: Joybell
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 07:02 PM

When I was about 10 years old I took to catching the train at our local station in an inner suburb of Melbourne and then changing at the next junction station. Catching the next train that came along. Getting off again and changing again. I'd do that all day. Riding around on the Melbourne suburban network. I travelled the whole of the network pretending the next change might land me in Katmandu or somewhere. I tried to interest friends but they always wanted to know where they were going. I always promised myself that I'd do the same thing with the country trains and go all over Australia and then on to the rest of the world but the idea of having to book and plan never appealed to me and I never have.
Cheers, Joy

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: Bert
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 07:34 PM

...these were my 3 half-brothers and that they were of the same bloodline there was NO doubt at all...

Oh my GAWD four bleedin' Micca's, the mind boggles.

If any of you ever get the chance, take the train from Teheran to Andimeshk in Iran. I travelled it several times, nothing mementous happened at any time but the scenery is out of this world.

Going through the mountains one goes through tunnels and across the most rickety looking trestles, incredible feats of engineering. Then there the ruins of early Islamic bridges and dams that are absolutely fantastic. My boss always wondered why I didn't use Iran air.

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 08:31 PM

It must have been about 1943, so I must have been about 6. My mother & I went from California to Vermont by train -- probably to look after our property. Civilians had to get special permission to take long train trips at that time. I remember us being the only civilians in a car full of uniformed soldiers. I let go a hard-boiled egg that my mother had peeled, and it rolled the length of the aisle. A ways to the east, perhaps at the same time, occurred the dreadful train trip (obSongs) in "The Second Front Song".

--- Joe Fineman

||: Quantum mechanics is Mother Nature's way of saying "Because I say so". :||

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Subject: RE: BS: A memorable train journey
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Apr 06 - 06:24 PM

Another Journey By Train

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