Friday, July 31, 2009

Ridin The Rails!

Train rides are my fondest memories of the first 25 years of my life.

From 1944 to 1969, my mother and I traveled the Atlantic Coastline RR, on the Champion and the Silver Meteor, several times a year.

Mother was born and raised in Palmetto, and married my dad on her 18th birthday in 1943.
She had been riding the trains to Savannah and back during the war years to see her dad, who was at the CC Camp in Savannah.

On my first ride with my mother, she was 5 months pregnant with me in 1944 and that was the beginning of my love affair with trains.

I truly loved the trains, the squealing of the wheels as they stopped, the rattling on the rails and the waddle as we backed into the stations in Savannah and Jacksonville, the long mournful wails as we got close to a crossing.

I did NOT love the fact the bathrooms were locked in the 2 hour lay over in Jacksonville and the 1 hour in Tampa.

The bathrooms were very tiny and very loud, and they rattled and shook me so hard I could hardly stand.
I made many trips to those little rooms because of the amazing water that came out of the spigots on the wall and trickled into those tiny little cups. I think they held maybe 3 ounces.
Did I mention the reclining seats? and the pillows provided by the conductor? Sheer Magic!

The conductors amazed me as they traveled up and down the aisles, swaying to the rocking cars. The same rocking cars that caused me to stagger and fall against the seats as I traveled to the water fountains and rest rooms. Mother packed lunches because there was no money for the dining car, and she would not even let me go peek in the door to see where the rich were eating and drinking.

The trip was 10 long hours, and I loved every minute, that is until my brother was added to the trip when I was 4. Some of the joy was snatched away while he was a baby, but the joy came back as he grew older, but he never loved the train like I did. He entertained himself with tiny toy soldiers.

In my teens I was allowed to do the trip ALONE.What Fun!

My last train ride, in 1969, I was alone, riding for the last time to attend my grandmothers funeral. To see her for the last time.

She passed away and Mother and Daddy drove to Palmetto for the funeral. They would be gone for a week and I had two sons, 3 and 18 months and could not be left for a week with a working husband.

My mothers friend offered to keep them for 3 days during the day and their dad could keep them at night.

Above photo is Eleanor Roosevelt's Secret Service Car, they traveled with her as photographers, using their cameras to scan the crowd. The Govt. did not want it known they were with her to protect her, so they pretended to be her personal photographers.
Club Car
The pictures in this post, were taken last year when I discovered the Railroad Museum in Parrish, FL, a 30 minute ride from home.
Diane and I rode the train for an hour, and of course we snapped and snapped and snapped. For only $12.00 I heard and saw my memories again in Real Time !

If you close your eyes while playing the below video I found on You Tube, you will hear the sounds I heard while riding the rails. This is today's Silver Meteor as it leaves Orlando Florida.


Snapper II said...

When I was in the Navy, I think I rode the Silver Meator one time. I rode the East Coast Champion many week ends, after visiting my sweetie Madeline. I would travel back to Norfolk Va to my ship the USS San Marcos where I was stationed. Many many moons ago.

Madeline said...

Yes, Pat would hitch-hike home every weekend to see me. He would come in late on Fri. night and his Mama and I would take him to the train station on Sun. afternoon so he could go back to Norfolk. When I think of how hard that must have been traveling nearly all weekend just to spend a few hours with me,
it blows me away. When we were young, it didn't really register with me what a sacrifice it was for him. Must have been true love...We are still together after 46 years and I have never seen anyone I would rather have. That is a blessing.

Sandra said...

And I remember being SO jealous of you and Pat and his visits home. I mean you were dating a sailor and I was dating NO one.