Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I Love Trains!


Posting yesterday's work on the current piece. As you no doubt can tell, there will be quite a bit of focus on this railroad passenger car and thus, today's title applied . . . 'I Love Trains'! I do, love trains. From the time I was just a little tyke and my family would travel, by train, out to the Midwest to spend summers with my grandmother in Iowa, I was always enthralled with that mode of transportation.

Over the years of train travel out and back to Iowa from the east coast, my family always traveled on the old New York Central Railroad out of Manhattan and the magnificence of Grand Central Station. Being just a child, the place was always overwhelming to me and the hustle and bustle of the crowds all made it such a special event. Departing late in the afternoon, we would glide up the Hudson River toward Albany where the light began to dim and the easy sway of the train would begin to lull me to sleep. Arrival the next morning in Chicago was also a 'big deal' as we generally would have a bit of time between trains to grab a bite of breakfast at the station lunch counter, another very special event in my childhood. Then, it was off on the Rock Island 'Rocket' for points west of Chicago and ultimately to the stop on the mighty Mississippi in Rock Island, Illinois where we would be met by one of my uncles in his bright yellow, port holed, Buick!

We would spend a wonderful summer with my grandmother and two uncles and I would enjoy one of my two childhoods (the other being my 'school time' childhood back in New Jersey) with Iowa friends and playmates until it was time once again to pack up belongings and head back east for the new school year to begin. Off to the little, hillside station in Davenport, Iowa we would go, to meet the eastbound 'Rocket' for Chicago in late morning for an early afternoon arrival in the Windy City and transfer back to the New York Central for the overnight run to The Big Apple.

This was the 'routine' for most of my grade school years, a few days after school was out, my dad would put my mom and I, and then my mom and I and my sister, once she was born, onto the train at Grand Central for the long, fun-filled summer in Iowa. Then in late August, we would reverse the 'routine' and head back to New Jersey.

When my grandmother and uncles resettled to northern Minnesota, around the time I was just finishing junior high, our trip took a bit of a twist, heading northwest out of Chicago instead of straight west, but the mode of transport, happily, remained the same . . . this time usually traveling on the old Burlington 'Twin Zephyr' up the beautiful shore of the Mississippi to Minneapolis where we would be met by one of my uncles, again, for the long drive north into Minnesota's Lake Country. One year we even got to ride out of Chicago on the old Milwaukee Road's wonderful, bright yellow-orange 'Hiawatha'.

As the years progressed, and my interest in trains and travel by train continued to grow, and once I began work on my own after graduation, I would set up wonderful, long rail journeys across this country and ultimately, across Canada as well. Late each summer, I would board the train in Manhattan, usually the still elegant remains of the New York Central's marvelous flagship, 'The 20th Century Limited' (and when that train disappeared from the timetables, a great trip through mid Pennsylvania on that state's namesake railroad's premier all pullman train, the 'Broadway Limited'), this time riding in the 'lap of luxury' in first class, sleeping accommodations! When I was younger, all the trips to Iowa were made in coach seats.

Over a period of five or six years, I made some wonderful trips out west, traveling on such iconic trains as the sleek 'California Zephyr'; the Santa Fe's train deluxe, 'The Super Chief'; the Union Pacific's 'City of Los Angeles'; and across the great northwestern route to the Pacific Northwest on Great Northern's magnificent green and orange 'Empire Builder'.

Several times, I went north, across the border to Canada and took the Canadian Pacific Railroad's five day journey completely across Canada on the 'Canadian'. What a way to see the country!

And so, since trains have always played a big part in my life, I now find it very enjoyable to include references to my pleasurable times 'riding the rails', in my art.

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