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…