A Train Of Thought

This is the time of year when I go through the 45 family albums and check that all photos are still in place.  Invariably, I have to use double scotch tape to put in some photos that have fallen out.  Memories inevitably arise, and particularly of trains, because they have been a major part of our family’s history.

My Grandfather Johnny(Nathan) had a great love of trains.  Perhaps it was his journey across the ocean from Eastern Europe to New York in the early 1900s that inspired his wanderlust.  Or perhaps he was born with an insatiable curiosity to explore.  We will never know.  But something propelled him to leave his family in New York, hop onto a train, and head for California.  For Johnny, trains became a symbol of freedom and a means of escape.  In fact, when Grandpa Johnny was angry at Grandma Lillian, he would threaten to go a train and leave her.  Grandma and I would usually find him walking to the nearest bus stop(he never drove) and we would pick him up.  However, once we had to drive to Union Station in Los Angeles, and he was sitting in the lobby.  Grandpa Johnny really must have been mad at Grandma!  But they made up, and returned as a harmonious couple to the San Fernando Valley and their home in North Hollywood.

Trains have a special meaning for me, too.  In my early childhood years, I lived on Rowena Street rather close to Griffith Park.  My mother, Twyla, was always a master at organizing theme-oriented birthday parties and she utilized the trains at Travel Town for a few of my parties.  I remember climbing the steps of a train to greet my guests.  It was a jolly time!

In 1959, I received a Lionel train as a holiday gift.  I set it up in my bedroom, and spent hours and hours watching my eight cars speed along the tracks.  The train still exists and I run it for friends who drop by in Medford Oregon.  The cardboard tunnel has long since disintegrated, but two new tunnels grace the tracks.  The train whistle still announces departures.  The station master runs up the stairs of a plastic building. Smoke pours out of the top of Mom’s Diner and another train of thought begins…

About Robert M. Weiss
From an early age, I've taken great pleasure in reading. Also, I learned to play my 78 player when I was quite young, and enjoyed listening to musicals and classical music. I remember sitting on the floor, and following the text and pictures of record readers, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s. My favorites were the Bozo and Disney albums. I also enjoyed watching the slow spinning of 16s as they spun out tales of adventure. I have always been attracted by rivers, and I love to sit on a boulder with my feet in the water, gazing into the mysteries of swirling currents. I especially like inner tubing on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Since my early youth, I've been interested in collecting minerals, which have taught me about the wonderful possibilities in colors and forms. Sometimes I try to imagine what the ancient Greeks must have felt when they began to discover physical laws in nature. I also remember that I had a special passion for numbers, and used to construct them out of stones. After teaching Russian for several years, I became a writer, interviewer, editor, and translator. I continue to delight in form, and am a problem solver at heart.

3 Responses to A Train Of Thought

  1. rommel says:

    Trains always look good, no matter how old it seems. Toy trains are awesome! Building the tracks are better than lego, I think. Thank goodness for Thomas the Train, kids imagination and fascination of trains are wild. 😀 Union Station is cool because of its historical background.


  2. auntyuta says:

    Lovely stories about your grandparents and how your mum organized birthday parties. I’d love to see your tracks with the toy-trains on it. Could you perhaps publish a picture of the whole set?


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