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Thursday, August 22, 2013

FASCINATION


As a little kid, and into my adulthood or old age, trains have been a fascination to me. Just like Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, I love trains.

I remember as a little kid going down into the subway with Mom, watching the IND arrive at the Rockaway Avenue Station in Brooklyn just off of Fulton Street, the big dark grey A Train with the car-couple on the front bottom, and the destination window with the IND noted on top. As it roared into the station, Mom would grip my hand tightly out of fear of the monster, but I loved it.

Later as I got bolder, I would venture off by myself and go to the same station to wait for Dad to arrive from work, as I sat outside the turnstile, watching the trains arrive, and dreaming of running one of them one day.

On summer mornings, I would look down Hull Street toward the end of Eastern Parkway, where the overhead El would skirt by, clickety clacking it’s way to Jamaica, Queens, the long line of greenish cars slightly tilting as it made itself around the bend.

As I got older, I would leave Brooklyn for a week or two in the summer and go to Patchogue Long Island to stay with my Uncle Joe, who worked for the Long Island Railroad. He would take me down to Patchogue Station where he was a gang foreman and get the trains ready for the return trip to New York City or points East. As he worked replacing the ice or water, cleaning out the cars and setting the seating in an orderly fashion, the train would move back and forth sometimes to position cars into or out of service, leaving me with a fear of going into the city without a ticket! I would stand on the platform or on the seating that faced the track in the shade and look at the giant steam engine, as it hissed as it idled, a monster so big that it would send a shudder down my spine and at the same time, make me wish I could be the engineer. On those early summer mornings, the distant sound of a train’s short toot would awaken me to the sun shine, fresh smell of the morning dew and the excitement that was in store for me that day!

Trains were a major part of my life growing up too. I took a train into Manhattan for my entry exam at the New York Institute of Technology, and then to school everyday until I graduate for the most part. When I sought employment as a Graphic Designer, it was the train into the big city for interviews and finally my first job!

But work wasn’t the only pleasure I had with the trains, as I gazed out in fascination for the minimal tolerance between passing trains, the intricate switching into and out of Jamaica Station and Penn Station, filling my imagination in wonder how it felt to be the guy that guided tons and tons of heavy steel, with hundreds of passengers into the final destination.

It was on the Railroad that I met the love of my life, and almost got married on it, but did give her the ring one Friday morning after purchasing it in the Diamond District the night before. TLW (The Little Woman) proudly showed it off in her maroon pants suit and long brown hair, after admonishing me because she wasn’t dressed for the occasion! I met other great people on the train, some I dated and some I have lost touch with, but all have a great place in my heart for those wonderful days.

One of my dreams has always been besides driving the thing is taking a trip cross-country by train, seeing America and experiencing the thrill of a big country with local stops from NYC to LA. Maybe someday I will.

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5 Comments:

  • With you on loving trains. The NY subway system is, by far, the best in the world.

    By Blogger Jim Pantaleno, at 7:11 AM  

  • NYC certainly has the largest in the world, but if you travel the London Underground and the Parisian Metro, they seem to have a better system to help a foreign traveler who doesn't know whee he is going!

    By Blogger Joseph Del Broccolo, at 8:31 AM  

  • I have seen other systems that are better in some respects but none that rivals in size and passengers our NY system.

    By Blogger Jim Pantaleno, at 3:04 PM  

  • Toronto subways are fast, efficient, grafitti free and CLEAN.
    Roger Hyde

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:12 AM  

  • Having never been there, does it compare in size with London, Paris and NY in numbers of commuters and track mileage?

    By Blogger Joseph Del Broccolo, at 9:03 AM  

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