Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
This week’s photo challenge is “Beneath Your Feet.” My mind immediately raced to the railroad tracks in our downtown area. Railroad tracks have been the subject of some of my best growing up stories. Trains and tracks create imagery of mystery and adventure.
I grew up in a railroad town located on the banks of the Mississippi River. At certain times of the day you knew you would be sitting and waiting at the crossing light unless you could get to the one bridge in town that crossed over the tracks. When I was young I didn’t mind waiting and I would play games like guessing how many train cars there were or trying to hold our breath until the last car crossed. Sometimes we would try and spot a hobo or freeloader. When I started to drive the last thing I wanted to do was wait for a train.
I spent many hours walking the tracks. As a 13 year old adventurer a friend and I climbed down the bluffs and were walking along the tracks and picking up stones to try and skip in the river. It was a narrow path. The Mississippi River on one side and the steep bluffs on the other. We had never thought about a train…. we had an “oh s#$t moment and my friend started to climb up the bluff and I slid down into the water holding onto a tree. It was long, slow freight train and I was freezing in the late October wind and water. Finally, as the caboose lumbered by I drug my wet self out of the water, covered with mud and jeans soaking wet. My friend was hanging onto a tree about 15 feet above the track. We started screaming and laughing like we had cheated death and rushed home as fast as my squishy sneakers and numb body could go. We washed our clothes and relived our adventure over and over. We never told our parents….lol… makes me wonder what my kids haven’t told me…. don’t want to know.
Another fond memory was of three friends and I walking across the train bridge from Iowa to Illinois. There was an area on the bridge you could move to if a train came across so we were sure we were safe. What we didn’t think about was a barge. We tried to run for one of the stationary sections when we felt it moving, but fear of falling through the tracks found us hanging on and trying to act like we planned it that way. As it turned out we did enjoy ourselves. There were a couple of people on the barge that saw us and waved and laughed and we thought we were very cool. Oh to be young and stupid… and to live through it.
My favorite memory is the sound of the trains at night in the distance. Wondering where those tracks were taking the trains. The tracks that disappear into nothing. Such a soothing sound.
There’s something about the sound of a train that’s very romantic and nostalgic and hopeful.