The year was 1987 and I was eighteen years old. Picture a young naive kid, who came from a small town, with a dream to seek out what the big city had to offer. So long ago my mom dropped me off in White River Junction, Vermont, so that I could ride the train to New York City. It was an exciting adventure, my first train ride, to visit my older brother David in Brooklyn.
I don’t remember all about my train ride but I do recollect that it was a seven or eight-hour stint on a smooth rolling train called the Vermonter. We rode through humble towns like Bellows Falls and expansive cities like Hartford, Connecticut. The landscape sprawled before me, scenes of city cars and buildings everywhere and others of fields and barns. At one point the train started going in the other direction, therefore I had to stifle the sick feeling. I had never rode backwards before! Ugh!
Now, so many years later I was reminded of my trip through my son’s first train ride on the same train. Branden is about the same age as I was, with the youthful energy to try new things. I was so proud of his eagerness to travel, exploring new ways of transportation.
The station sits in White River Junction, Vermont nestled on the White River, adjoining the Connecticut. Dating back to the 1840’s the city thrived as a railroad junction and continued until its decline in the 1960’s. Then the highway system became the most important means of travel. Yet the station remains and travelers still take advantage of the passenger train.
As Tom, my son and I waited outside the station, a well seasoned railroad employee trudged up to us. He jingled his keys in the bitter cold and apologized for not opening the waiting station sooner. ” Lots to do today. ” he whispered, sending plummets of steam from his breath. Since we were early and the only ones waiting so far, we assured him that it was fine.
Entering the musty room I was plunged back in time. A boarding schedule stood on the wall, not digital or modern, but resembling the same schedule I saw so long ago. Wooden benches stood in the middle of the room. It was as if we were in the Planes, Trains and Automobile movie beside actors John Candy and Steve Martin.
It was surprising to me to have many people pile into the station at the last-minute, perhaps holiday travelers going home as it was New Year’s Day. At the estimated arrival time we all stood just a few feet away from the track. The wind whipped against us as we stood in the snow, a true New England boarding experience in January. Finally the train whistle sounded, giving me goosebumps and it hurriedly chugged up to us. Right away the attendants lowered the icy steps and herded people onboard. This was it…Branden boarded for his first train adventure and we drove home happy for him.
Do you have a train ride story?
All My Best,
Heart and Soul ❤