Monday, March 23, 2009

I Will Meet You at the Station

There was a rail line that went through my home town. There was a train station in every town the railroad went through. It was one of those things that towns grew up around. Always near the rail lines were industries, post offices, lumber yards and brick yards. This is the way things got around before long haul trucking became so common. Back in the day, trucks were more for a local delivery and trains did all the long hauls.

Railroad stations were interesting places to me as a kid. I toured all the stations that my bicycle could take me to. They were temples of transportation. The insides were always large church-like rooms with pew like benches and every sound echoed seeming forever. My voice may still be echoing in some stations.

The train stations were staffed with men behind barred windows. I remember the one in my town wore a green visor, just like one would see in the movies. This person sold tickets and handed out schedules. Behind him was some ancient office equipment and an enormous safe.

I was at the Kelso train station on Saturday. This station looks very much like a proper station in my mind. There was only a hand full of passengers there waiting for the train to arrive and their voices echoed in the large hall. I secretly wished that train travel would once again become popular so that station could live in all its potential glory.

Another sad thing about this station other than its lack of use is that there is no ticket agent in the station. There is a barred window where one should be, but instead there is a computerized machine that scans printouts from home computers. It also accepts credit cards and prints tickets.

Every time I go there I hope to see an older bald man with a green visor and low slung reading glasses that sit upon an unsmiling face behind the barred window personally selling tickets to travelers.


Blogger Beth said...

I like your nostalgia posts. Not only do they bring back good memories, they make me pause and appreciate what exists today.
“This, too, shall pass away.”

4:52 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

I loved traveling by train. I once (many years ago) went from Denver to Portland by train. Since the train left at 6am and I had to get a bus up from Colorado Springs, I had to get there the night before. The train station in Denver was this huge cathedral of marble and oak. They locked the doors at 11pm and left me and one other guy inside for the night. The president of the local chapter of the Model Railroaders Association. I learned more about trains that night than I had in the twenty something years that had preceded it. And our voices echoed all night long.

5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way back, I used to work on a railroad in the northern part of Quebec. Being bilingual and working for US Steel meant ending up at the head end of an ore train wayyyyyy before I was ready. And that's ore train pronounced without the wh. 165 cars carrying 110 tons each meant a whole lot of puckering ass tightening when you hit the grade - especially if you forgot to warm up your icy brake shoes. Once a week there was a passenger train and if your name was up on the board, you got to drive the sports car of trains. Would have much rather been the conductor on those runs though cause you got to punch the tickets of the topless go go dancers on their way back from Gagnon. That town was literally wiped off the face of the map and bulldozed when the ore ran out. Anyway...the point being...if you think railroad stations are cool, you should try getting your whistle blown...err..umm...I mean blowing the train whistle. Getting your bell rung...errr ..umm I mean ringing the bell ain't all that bad either...


4:21 PM  
Blogger g said...

did you see ginger baker?

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ginger Baker was the drummer for you think maybe g meant Josephine Baker? Has he become addled by rap??


5:10 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, I enjoy writing about stuff like that, too. I bet if I went back to my home town I could re-inspire myself to further recollection.

Darev, It's universal, though trains probably bring back bad memories for some people in Europe in the 40's.

Moose you need a blog.

g, more like Mike Nesmith and Mickey Dolenz

5:15 AM  
Blogger g said...

sorry i was being subliminal and vague.

the path i took to ginger baker:
cream - white room "at the station"

the adults get it, the kids don't, everyone goes home happy.

6:58 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

g, I caught the reference, but it wasn't a white room, and the title of the post came from the Last Train to Clarksville.

8:04 PM  

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