This is one of the first blog posts I wrote, back in 2009 when I started this blog. Civil War Sunday is on hiatus - I hope you will enjoy this travel post, instead. This story will conclude tomorrow. Join me in this train story, as I go back in time to my childhood.
In July of 1966, my father and I flew down to Tampa, Florida to visit
family. It was my first "real" trip outside of the general area around
my native New York City and my first time on an airplane. We were
supposed to fly back home except...the airlines went on strike. Every
single one of them.
My Dad had to get home and get back to work. The
way back home turned out to be on an Atlantic Coast Line train. Tampa
to NYC. The ride was about 26 hours long.
I was familiar with the NYC subways and had even ridden the Long Island Railroad, but this was something different.
can still remember portions of the journey 43 years later. A dinner (I
remember how expensive the prices seemed), served on china. Many
people carrying Atlantic Coast Line bags; how I wish we had bought one.
At one point they told people the train was going to split, and if you
weren't in the correct car you would end up going somewhere else. But
most of all, the scenery stayed with me. When you are on a train, there
is an intimacy totally unlike seeing the country from the Interstate.
On a train you travel literally through people's back yards. Their
everyday lives are yours to observe as you speed past. We traveled
through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina. Rural poverty unfolded
around me, almost close enough to touch. It wasn't the war on poverty
from television. This was reality.
I don't remember much about
the big cities, although I know we later traveled through Baltimore and
Philadelphia. It's the countryside I remember. And the countryside
that called to me the next time I would travel on a long distance train,
40 years later, back to Florida.
Tomorrow, my then-16 year old son and I connect on a train.