Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Phoebe Snow

It came down to schedules. It was either the Erie or the Lackawanna train that was going to take me to New York or Buffalo from Binghamton. The Erie was the old. The Lackawanna had the ‘Phoebe Snow’ and was modern.

I knew this as a kid. Seven years old. Riding the rails from Binghamton west all the way to Buffalo then back east to New York city. 1958.

The Red Caps would take care of me. I would be loaded up on comic books, train schedules, and imagination. I would check the big clock as we rolled in to the train stations. On time. Always.

Life’s a game of give and take. Learn it, learn it, learn it. When you are seven years old and on your own, you learn. My parents would put me on the train to visit my grown sisters. One in New York and one in Buffalo. I was free and unafraid when I was on the Phoebe Snow.

Grass was missing in Buffalo. Plenty concrete, asphalt, Wonder bread, apartments, sister, brother-in-law, Georgianna the babysitter, and some very blue skies. I recall the heat of summer and ‘yakety yak’, by the Coasters on the hi-fi. I also recall muttering that I wasn’t going to wash the (damn) dishes. That resulted in my first spanking that summer.

After about two weeks, I would be placed back on the ‘Phoebe Snow’ heading east to Binghamton. There would be a quick change of clothes and provisions right there in the station, as I would continue on the same train to New York city to see my other sister. But not before the second spanking for muttering that I wasn’t going to wash the (damn) dishes. With fresh comics, a book, and a bagged lunch, the train pulls out of the station, on time, heading south towards Scranton, PA and eventually to New York.

About four hours later, the train would roll into the Penn Central station. I would be greeted by my other sister and my aunt. The first order of business was to get another spanking for muttering that I wasn’t going to wash the (damn) dishes.

I loved trains as a kid. My father got me a ‘Marx’ brand train set for Christmas. It was not compatible with the more popular ‘Lionel’ sets that my friends had. However, I wish I had that train with its locomotive, boxcar, coal car, and caboose today. It would conjure up memories of three geographic locations central to telling the stories of my family history.

Peace & Blessings,
"Guided by the Ancestors"
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