Train noises. Mournful horns. Chug-chug-chugging. Clinking clanking. Grandfather engines and cars autographed with proud hobo etchings move carefully through our community.
I hear the trains from my bed at night and in the morning. I like the sounds. They comfort and reassure.
With roots reaching back into our American past these friendly behemoths remind that hard times and good times come and go but the human spirit endures through all.
Trains settled the American West, built and destroyed towns and cities with their presence or lack thereof. Trains have seen us through wars, economic hardships, natural disasters, presidential elections, and glory days. Songs have always been written about trains, terrific songs which seem to strike a similar, almost primal chord in everyone.
When my dad was a little boy in Oklahoma during the Depression his brothers and he used to sneak down to the train tracks to the large hobo village where friendly men, down on their luck, would tell the little boys stories and offer them tasty hobo stew. Shoplifting techniques were discussed, music played, camaraderie abounded. Pennies were laid on the tracks for heavy train wheels to flatten. Dad still smiles a far-away smile when he recounts those hobo village excursions.
In this age of technology which renders daily tools ancient in a matter of months, keeps us scrambling to stay current while paying for constant updates and 'the latest thing', where personal automobiles are more about luxury than longevity, trains steadfastly roll on moving food and supplies here and there all over the country like stalwart sentries from the past, guarding, watching, reminding of simpler times, hardier people.
Soothing to me are the sounds I hear while lying in my bed or moving about during a quiet moment in the day. "We've been through it all," they seem to say. "You'll be okay. Americans find a way through good times and bad."
Got a hankering for hobo stew, a good story, and lively music tonight.