Riding the Rails
The Illinois Central City of New Orleans makes a station stop in Hammond, Louisiana (vintage postcard)
If there is anything I like more than airplanes, it's trains. I rode my first train, the Illinois Central's City of New Orleans, when I was a child of elementary school age. We were traveling to visit my grandparents. The train comprised an Electromotive Division (EMD) E-8 locomotive, Pullman coaches, dining car, sleeping cars, and lounge car.
I remember more about those trips than I thought I did when I first started writing this. I remember Daddy explained the signals and how you could tell when the train was coming. He placed a penny on the tracks so we could see if the train would flatten it. I remember the wooden Railway Express Agency wagons with that iron wheels and how they were so heavy that I couldn't even begin to budge them. And, then, we boarded the train.
I remember the large windows and the scratchy seats (murder on young legs). I remember the low rumble of the engine as it started up and how long it took to build up speed. The restroom was quaint with a dressing area and a private water closet. The conical paper cups dropped down from a dispenser as we fetched water from the ice water dispenser. Oh! And I remember the colorful posters that advertised exciting places to travel. We weren't allowed to tour the train. That came later.
When I was in high school, my cousin, a good friend, and I traveled to my cousin's home to visit before we continued on to my grandparents' home. Then, we walked all the way back to the lounge car. It featured the rounded rear that prompts VIA Rail Canada to call them bullet cars. There, we found a bar, where we ordered Cokes and admired the boys. My cousin especially liked the boy with the baby-blue eyes.
And, so, this section will relate details of various train trips I have taken. I've ridden on old heavyweight cars, lightweight Streamliner cars, and modern Amfleet, Viewliner, and Superliner cars. Of them all, the Streamliners are my favorites.