Trains got to lov'em

... a part of my life always

by Kay McCarte

Trains have always been a part of my life.  My grandfather worked for the B&M, my father worked for the B&M and, it was only fitting, I worked for the B&M. Some of my earliest memories are standing near the gates on Wyoming Avenue and feeling the ground under me shake as the Flying Yankee flew by on its way to Maine.

Photo courtesy of Richard Cross and, Resource Guide to American railroading.

During our summer vacations one day always included a train trip on different branches of the railroad -- to Portland and Old Orchard Beach, out west to Gardner and Fitchburg, wherever the B&M went, we went.

Going to work in Boston always meant taking the train from the Wyoming station. I vaguely remember a sign saying "Ride the Train - 2 cents a mile."  Those were the days when you really got dressed up to go to work with hats, gloves and heeled shoes. I knew if I were at Lincoln School when the gates went down I would make the train.

Photo courtesy of Dick Leonhardt and, Resource Guide to American railroading.

As the train came into the station the conductor or trainman would swing down off the step with paper towels in hand to wipe the coal soot from the grab rail before we boarded.  He would  also check up and down the street to make sure that any stragglers were not left behind before he gave the signal to proceed to the engineer.

I have ridden the rails many times and in many places.

Among the more memorable trips were Boston to Washington, DC with a girl scout troop.  Take a bunch of girls to see the sights and it is like your head is on a swivel trying to keep up with what they are all seeing.

I was with a group of hockey fans on a trip to Toronto by air to see the Bruins play on Saturday night, with a return trip on Sunday to see them play in Boston that night.  Unfortunately for us a huge snowstorm hit New York City and, though we could get out of Toronto and into Boston, we could not land in New York. The decision was made to take the train to Buffalo and get the New England States from Chicago. Bad move. Due to another snowstorm the train was two hours late into Buffalo but the New England States was about four hours late getting to Buffalo and still had to wait as they were only able to keep one track open. We arrived back in Boston around 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning and some people actually went to work.

When in Russia for the Canadian/Russian Hockey Games we took the overnight train from Moscow to Leningrad (as it was then) and back to Moscow. The sleeping compartments had four bunks and we were to share with a single man, who was not too happy about those arrangements. Another compartment had a man and wife with two men so the wife came in with us and the man went with the other men, to everyone's satisfaction.

But I think the most memorable trip was overnight on the Orient Express from Venice to Paris.  I hope to write a full story about that trip soon.

I do like trains.

May 7, 2010

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