Train Watching

Have you ever watched a Locomotive from a long way off? At first it seems so far away and that it might never arrive at its destination. Many years ago, when I was a lad…my friend, Dennis, and I would attend movies at the Orpheum Theatre in Eldorado, Illinois on Sunday. The Orpheum had served as my church for several years…and after watching whatever flick was showing at least a couple of times…we, at certain select times, made our way to the Dairy Queen to purchase a pack of Marlboro Cigarettes for the old gentleman who took and tore the tickets. One day as we were walking to the DQ we had the brilliant idea to buy a pack of Marlboros for us as well. We further ruminated that to mask the odor of the pungent tobacco…we would each get a pack of barbecue potato chips. There was another old man who waited on us at the store where we usually enjoyed Dilly Bars…and he smiled in a wicked knowing manner when he took our order…and we were sore afraid… So we dropped off our friends smokes and then proceeded to the train tracks where we Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn wannabes could enjoy the full impact of our forbidden pleasure. The plan was to each smoke 20 cigarettes as rapidly as possible and then return to the theatre and wait for mom to pick us up in about an hour.

‘Smoke curled around our heads like a wreath.’ My stomach churned and Dennis took on a most interesting a lemon yellow glow. There were Little Egypt Mosquitoes and birds and squirrels and a train whistle in the far off distance…almost like a whisper… We were at the height of our smoking adventure and in the middle of a train trestle. The jump from the trestle was about 20 feet. We began to run as if our lives depended on it…and they did. We threw the Marlboros so they would not be found on our crushed bodies…and coughed like the steam from the coal fired furnace of the runaway train. When we reached safety and off the trestle of death…we hid in the poison ivy. No train came. We returned to the movie…a bit ill and scratching.

Photo by Ewa Misztal on

Holidays are a bit like waiting on a Locomotive. Due to our Pandemic we have waited on a trip to Maine for 16 months. It has seemed so far off and then we heard the phantom train whistle…but it was a specter…so we continued to wait. Once the train arrives for holidays or happy occasion I have discovered that I had better snap a photo…as it will be over almost before it starts.

‘Please don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth.

Life is fleeting.

And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night.

And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day…make a wish and think of me.

Make your life spectacular.’

Robin Williams

2 responses

  1. I knew you were in trouble as soon as you thought smoking 20 cigarettes as rapidly as possible would be a good idea.🤣

    1. How very true your words are, my friend! 🤢

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