Alice's Attic: Sound of local train invokes thoughts of yesteryear
February 11. 2014 1:25PM
While I am still lying in bed, I hear the trains a-coming, and quite enjoy their sounds, because they are connected to many of my memories.
The first train that I rode on was the "Galloping Goose" that would leave Egan every day at 10 a.m. and head to Flandreau, six miles away. For 20 cents, my girlfriends and I would hop on and take a seat in the first class caboose.
We would no more than get settled in before we were slowing down to get off at Flandreau. Then, the train – hauling grain, coal, mail, cattle, sheep and few passengers – would continue on the trip to Pipestone, Minn. From there, after changing its direction on the turntable, it would head to Madison, S.D.
At about 8:30 p.m., it would stop about three miles south of Egan at the junction. This is where teenager Dave Chamley would be waiting to join on the trip to Sioux Falls, where it would arrive about 10:30. Dave would start to walk to his sister and her husband's home several blocks from the train station, where he would spend a few days. One time, the police stopped him because it was past curfew, but, then, they were kind enough to drive him to his destination.
One wonderful warm, sunny day my girlfriend, Jean, and I decided we should make a picnic lunch and meander down to the pasture where we could sit and have our picnic. In those young years, we didn't have too many pressing issues. We tried to avoid eye contact with the cows. We soon heard the train coming, which traveled right below our pasture about a block away.
Bright idea! We decided to run as fast as we could and get under the trestle and watch the bottom of the train as it went over us.
Have you ever sat under a trestle and watched a train above? The closer it came, the rumble sounded like the whole train would crash in on us. We both were so scared that we couldn't move. Actually, I was finally able to get out from under but could do nothing to help Jean — I was laughing too hard. I don't know why I laugh when danger is close. I guess it is better than screaming.
Like the time I was driving down Cliff Avenue with nonchalant Dave sitting next to me, and I didn't see any lights nor hear any horn until I was about two feet from the track. The train that was coming, saw me and pulled the horn as loud as a bomb warning. Fire flew out from my tires from braking as hard as I could. Luckily, we stopped just in time to see the wild look on the conductor’s face.
I asked Dave if he had seen the train, and he said, "Not until my head hit the ceiling!”
Dave and I spend part of our honeymoon on a train going from Omaha to San Diego. Of course, we were very excited until we realized the train was packed with so many servicemen that there were no seats available for us. We had to sit in the aisles on our luggage most of the way. We were all stuck in there like sardines in a can. It was hot and miserable, to say the least.
I didn't think that I would ever ride on a train again, but after two years, Dave had served his duty overseas, and we had a baby!
We were home in Egan for furlough before we took a train again back to San Diego. But, we had a comfortable compartment, and plenty of room with a tiny baby. We were happy! This train I loved.