About 2 miles inland from here there are train tracks that run north south, and probably 5 to 6 times a day a train travels over them. Since there are several main roads going west to east, from I-95 to the beach, there is a reasonable chance that during the course of a week, you’ll be stopped at a railroad crossing waiting for a train to pass. It can be very frustrating to have to anxiously sit there waiting for a long train to ponderously wend its way by. Even though I am retired and probably have more time to spare than many others, I plead guilty to having that frustrated feeling.
However, when I am home late in the evening with the door open, I sometimes can hear the whistle of those trains as they approach and pass that nearby crossing. And when I do, I am transported back to when I was a very young boy living in Pennsylvania and sometimes late at night I could hear the truly lonesome whistle of a train some miles away. I am amazed that the sound has never left the deep reaches of my mind. And when I do hear it now, it brings back those same feelings and emotions it did all those years ago. Although I didn’t fully grasp it then, I think it was a sense that this world is a lot bigger than I could imagine and life involved a lot of people I would never meet – people and places further up and down the line.
That got me thinking about other sounds, and sights and smells, of years long gone by that still evoke fond and pleasant memories. While they may be different ones, I’m willing to bet they are there for each of us. I know have forgotten so much more than I will ever remember, and the forgotten memories are growing in numbers – yet, there are things that will stay with me forever. That train whistle, the aroma of a favorite dish cooking, the sight of a certain car. Little did I know at the time i first experienced them that they would become the basis for some of my fondest memories, returning like old lost friends.
I hope you find some time to enjoy your train whistle, whatever it may be.