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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Whistle-Stop Inaugural...........lovin' it!!!!

Just the thought of Barack Obama, re-enacting Lincoln's Whistle-Stop train ride, exhilarates me. This would be two-fold, as I am so impressed with the incoming President and my love of trains. During the 1860's the main mode of "fast" travel was solely the steam engine trains. Lincoln and his family, during campaign to inauguration utilized this mode of transportation frequently. Even upon death, Abraham Lincoln's body was transported and viewed at the various train depots all the way to his final resting place, via the steam engine train.

Now, Barack Obama, will be leaving today from Philadelphia and make stops in Wilmington, DE., Baltimore, MD., and then into Washington, D.C.

While growing up, I travelled a great deal on trains, and my main love was the very different "club" cars, all the way to the "dining" cars. A Dining Car could resemble anything from a small corner diner to a posh restaurant. During these travel times, my twin sister and I were very young, from age 5 to around 17 years of age. I can remember running the length of the trains, the "whoosh" sound of the doors opening between cars, annoying quite a few riders (HA!), and then crashing for the evening in our Pullman (sleeper) room.

When we travelled, there was just the B&O and C&O railways for passengers, which has changed over the years - and today the primary passenger trains are Amtrak I believe. Each seat in the passenger car had a head napkin attached to the back of the seats with this logo...Chessie of the C&O. I was unable to locate a picture of Bessie of the B&O, but they were quite similar. Chesapeake & Ohio eventually bought out Baltimore & Ohio and alas, B&O went by the wayside.

My parents were old school, and the philosophy was that an entire family unit "never travelled together" per chance of an accident. Then the survivors would have a living parent. Good grief! My mother was deathly afraid of flying, so trains were her primary mode of transportation for long distances. My father was in the Army Air Force, so he had a love for that mode of transportation.

My goofy brother (remember he was adopted, no blood between us), was in a mental institution in Topeka, Kansas (Menninger Institute) for almost six years, and we visited at least four times a year - not my favorite sport by any means. So off we go, Dad and either me or my sister, would fly - and the other offspring and mother would head out on the train. Of course, whoever went by train had to leave about two days earlier, in order to arrive close to the same time. What a fukking nightmare.

There were many trips to St. Petersburg, FL, where we owned an apartment building, for summer vacations also. For that scheduled train ride, we would have to board the train at some ungodly hour - like 3 am!!! We would then head to D.C., and then on down the Eastern Seaboard. One of my father's friends owned his own train car, (2) actually. We were offered the use of these cars, but Dad always refused. The cost to hook up to a routed line was astronomical at that time. Smart move Dad!

Anyway...I'm curious if the press will be covering this Obama ride - as he heads to take the oath of office as 44th President of the United States - three days from now!!


Dave said...

I'm a big train guy myself. Not long ago I gave up flying or driving on my trips to Montreal in favor of train. The five hour ride is wonderful.
I love it.

Mauigirl said...

I love trains too. When I was in college in Boston back in the 70's, after the end of the very inexpensive Eastern Air Shuttle, I used to take the train back and forth to New York and thence to New Jersey via bus. I remember once being on a train that had an actual dining car complete with silverware and white napkins. I don't think they do that anymore even on the Acela train - they have a cart that comes by.

I love taking trains in Europe - they still know how to do it right.

I think it's great President-Elect Obama is going to do the train ride! I like the way he appreciates the traditions and history behind the Presidency.

CDP said...

I love trains, too! I still love to take Amtrak to Philadelphia and NY.

Lisa said...

I think this is really cool. He's starting off right.