Hear the midnight train

The midnight train is whining low
I’m so lonesome I could cry

Hank Williams Sr

For my entire life, it seems that I have always lived within earshot of a train.

As a little girl growing up in the South, long before folks had central air in their homes,
we’d sleep with our windows wide open…
and without fail, late on those steamy nights while the crickets continuously chirped,
despite dwelling in the burbs, there was always that sorrowful,
yet unmistakeable, whistle echoing through the air…winging its way to my youthful ears.

I listened to the whistles but I was also afforded to ride the rails.
Riding thankfully as a passenger rather than stowaway…think Boxcar Willy
or a vagrant hobo.

My grandparents always opted to take the train whenever possible verses driving.
They’d take me down to Atlanta’s Brookwood train station in order
to catch a train headed north in order to visit my cousins.
By the end of 7th grade, as a graduation trip of sorts before we all moved on to highschool,
my class took the train to Washington D.C

My dad also seemed to have a long love affair with trains as we had quite the
model train set up in our basement.

Later when I made my way to college, if I opted to walk to campus,
I use to have to crisscross a maze of train tracks.

And long before UGA had their fancy smancy football stadium, the stadium backed up to
what the students lovingly referred to as “the tracks”—free seats for the truly
brave or truly drunk at heart.
I always opted to sit inside the stadium but would longingly watch those
stalwart fans perched on that trestle that overlooked the field
wondering what they did should a whistle blow.
Blessedly, I never did hear of any train and fan incidents.

Once married and settled as a new bride in my husband’s house, a train cut right through
the middle of his small home town…we not only could hear the whistle echoing from town,
but we could actually feel the rumbling vibrations of every train passing through town.

There was many a morning that I would be on my way to work, getting caught
up in traffic by a freight town traversing through town—so frustrated,
sitting there stuck, I’d count the cars as the minutes ticked past making
me later than necessary.

The next city we moved to, along with the house we built, it also seemed prewired with the
sounds and feel of a nearby train running the tracks.
And now, this new house is no different.

And so the trains just keep on rolling…

And with this running theme of trains in yesterday’s post along with trains in today’s post
it seems that trains are a vehicle for much more than merely transportation
God is providing a metaphor and I will elaborate on that tomorrow…

So for now, let us enjoy a little throwback to a simpler time…

21 comments on “Hear the midnight train

  1. bcparkison says:

    Trains are certainly a part of my young life. My Grand dad worked for the Illinois Central that ran from New Orleans to Chicago thru Canton, Ms. where they lived and I was born. My Dad was stationed in Mountain Idaho during WWll and Mother and I road trains out to be with him when I was 6 mos. old. And then when my husband and I lived in North Ala. we could hear the old steam engine train going thru the valley up to Chatt. Tenn. Love the sound.

  2. Mel Wild says:

    Now that you mentioned it, I think I’ve been living by trains my whole life, too. From freight trains in rural locations to being so close to the “L-train” in Chicago that my windows rattled! I even used to dream about trains. Trains are symbolic of a lot of our culture, especially in songs.

    Anyway, thanks for the memories! Good word.

  3. atimetoshare.me says:

    Our new old house is perched on the south side of the tracks, right next to the freeway. There are many sounds to hear. Thankfully our windows are soundproofed. Great to have you back. Always love reading your posts.

  4. Dawn Marie says:

    Just adding Another thing Cookie and I have in common: the melodic sound of a train within earshot.

    And THIS had me rolling with laughter: “long before UGA had their fancy smancy football stadium,” 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Hugs to you for the giggle!

  5. K.L. Hale says:

    I love this song and your writing, Julie. I lived by many trains. This house I just bought is about 1 mile from the tracks that are rarely used this side of Branson anymore. I had to cross tracks at two of my schools. The ONLY time I was late when I began teaching was because I hadn’t “learned” how to beat the train (the principal and the other teachers ribbed me about it for quite a while). It does take us to simpler times. Thank you my friend. Blessings and hugs to you. Karla

  6. SLIMJIM says:

    Thanks for sharing; since having kids I’ve gotten into train. Thanks for sharing that song, like it so much I played it twice!

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