Friday, January 12, 2007

For Train Lovers

This shot is actually for my brother Michael as he has never seen a photo of the train set up my father had built in the cellar of one of the first houses he owned. This photo goes back about 55 years ago and shows Dad at the control center. This train set up took up one half of the cellar and was constructed on waist high platforms. There were openings one could use by crawling under the platforms and poke up in several areas of this fantastic village. The buildings were handmade replicas of places in the small town of Hampton, New Hampshire. The roof of each building came off allowing a miniature view of the interior of each business. One of the buildings was a replica of our 'step' grandfather's caboose restaurant in the middle of town. What magic to lift off the roof and there was the lunch counter, the stools, the kitchen out back, and the booths with some of the local town characters portrayed in detail. At any given moment there could be several trains running; some going through tunnels, some delivering passengers at the station, many going about their routes over bridges, through woods and around lakes.

My brother Bobby and I, being the first children practically grew up on trains. I remember riding in the locamotive engine area, allowed to pretend that I was driving the train. What excitement to see the open track ahead as we sped up and to blow the whistle as we slowed down at crossings. Our Uncle Mike was a conductor for the Boston and Maine railroad so he would arrange for lots of special 'train' rides. I also remember my brother and I being able to ride in one of the pull-carts as my father's friend Joe was a repair foreman for the railroad. But the best memories for me were going from station to station in New Hampshire and Vermont with my father who was a traveling auditor for the Boston and Maine railroad. We would go for overnight visits to stations and during the day the train station in that town would be our playground. If I close my eyes and go back to those memories I can actually smell the woodwork and hear the wall clock pendulums ticking sound as they swung back and forth.

As train service began to die out in New England, stations would be on the list of closings and my father would buy or bargain services to get the old pendulum wall clocks. I believe that today all of the brothers and sisters have either a wall clock or piece of train memorabilia, including a fabulous, multi-drawer, wooden cabinet that had special sliding inserts for coins, tickets, and paperwork.

What a special treat it is for me to see my grandsons so in love with anything to do with trains. We love playing 'Polar Express' and shouting out - ALL ABOARD!!!!!! TICKETS PLEASE!!!!!! Passenger train service has been restored in my part of New England. There are several area towns that have newly renovated train stations allowing us to travel from Maine to Boston in the best of style. First thing I do when I get on the train is close my eyes and let the memories flood in...


jim said...

H-O-L-Y S-H-I-T! Man, you brought me BACK with this one! I remember those road trips around New England, and playing in the train stations. What a rush to go back there!

I remember asking Dad about his work. I don't remember his exact description, but it obviously had something to do with auditing and balancing books. Because from that time forward, I always thought of Dad as one who could balance locomotives with his bare hands.

And I still have Uncle Mike's pocket watch. I was reminded of that when I watched the Polar Express.

Thanks for the trip back in time, sis!

21 Charles Street said...

Jim do you remember when Uncle Mike lived with us on Palmer Street?

jim said...

The only thing I remember is that he used to come through the door at night with a bag of toasted coconut marshmallows. He'd ask me math questions, and if I answered correctly, I'd get a marshmallow. Loved 'em!