Friday, October 7, 2016

“I like trains. I like their rhythm, and I like the freedom of being suspended between two places, all anxieties of purpose taken care of: for this moment I know where I am going.” ― Anna Funder, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

Hear that whistle blowing? It's just about at the station. It's the Friday train and it's on time here on this October 7, 2016. I often think about trains. They are a part of my life. Especially, my formative years as a kid growing up. The summer before dad passed away in 1954, our entire family made a train trip from Port Arthur, Texas to Fort Benning, Georgia. Mom, dad, and the six of us kids. We must have been a sight. Other than going to Louisiana to visit my mom's people, this may have been the one and only family vacation we ever took. Dad worked for the Kansas City Southern Railroad, therefore, our train trip was paid for. I'm positive that was the only way we could have ever made such a trip. I actually remember some about that particular train ride. It was long. The sound of the wheels clicking and clacking on the tracks is something I will always remember. The hissing. The smells. Everything was starched and prim. You haven't had a Coca-Cola until you enjoy one of those small bottles handed to you by the porter out of a bucket of ice. Magic. Those working on the train seemed overjoyed to have us traveling with them. We enjoyed the long ride over Lake Ponchatrain in a sleeper car. After dad passed on, I was able to use our family rail pass for many years. I suppose that's why I say trains are a part of my life. Maybe I connect to my dad in my recollections of my train riding days. I'm not sure about that. I do know that many train workers knew my dad and they came and spoke to me as I rode the rails. Now, I drive in each day and I often sip my morning drive coffee from a genuine KCS ceramic mug. That too helps keep the memories alive. This little story reminded me to put on the train soundtrack and believe it or not, the first thing I heard was that whistle blowing. Nothing like having your story set to music. Right?

Before you send me the name of a good therapist, please be aware that at the brand new age of three score and ten, I'm likely not in a position to gain a whole lot from that kind of help. And, think about the therapist. Would you really want to expose someone to my version of the triple threat? Me, myself, and I. I know there is something called multiple personality disorder but I'm not sure which one of the three I would need to talk to first. Just joking. I am well aware there are folks who are helped by professionals that do that kind of therapy. I'm not making fun of the people who go to them or those who provide the help. I'm mostly poking fun at myself. You know. Self-deprecating humor. I still ride trains from time to time but only in my dreams. I know. If you look up what dreams about trains mean, you get some gobbly gook about it being a metaphor for your life's journey with a whole lot of other stuff thrown in to get you to buy the book or call for help. How about it being a memorable part of my life story and one that I still enjoy? I think I will say that sitting here in my chair as opposed to laying on the doctor's couch. What about those who dream about the runaway or out of control train? If you have that one going on, you might want to check it out. You do know I'm also joking about that too. You know. Light at the end of the tunnel and stuff like that.

I know what many of you are thinking. It's most likely because I'm thinking it too. Today's visit is somewhat like a train ride. A train ride to nowhere. Some days are like that. When my dad died he left behind some old 45 rpm records. One of them I listened to often was a 1941 tune, "Chattanooga Choo Choo". The music was written by Harry Warren and the words by Mack Gordon. It was originally written as a big band/swing piece for Glenn Miller and his orchestra. My dad loved big band music. What a coincidence! I love it too. I would put that little record on our little player and here's what I heard, "Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo? Track twenty nine, boy you can gimme a shine I can afford to board a Chattanooga Choo Choo I've got my fare and just a trifle to spare You leave the Pennsylvania station 'bout a quarter to four Read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer Than to have your ham 'n' eggs in Carolina When you hear the whistle blowin' eight to the bar Then you know that Tennessee is not very far Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it rollin' Woo, woo, Chattanooga, there you are There's gonna be a certain party at the station Satin and lace, I used to call funny face She's gonna cry until I tell her that I'll never roam." (If you have trouble reading the words, call it up on YouTube and listen to it. I checked. The 1941 Glenn Miller version is available.) The rest, as they say, is history, or in my case, what you see if what you get. That would be the triple threat again in case you are keeping score. Have yourself a great Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday and I'll see what the three of us can stir up for our next meeting. Take care and do your best not to become sidetracked, derailed, or railroaded. May God bless us all. Amen. ....More later.

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