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Funny People in Close Quarters on the Train



Pauline Nevins  September 7-8, 2019 - Auburn Journal



"Ride This Train,” sang the late Johnny Cash. He didn’t have to tell me twice. I love the train. I was indoctrinated early in life.

Built in 1857, and still operating, is the Midland Road Railway Station in my hometown in the East Midlands. One hour after boarding the train, wearing stiletto heels and a beehive hairdo, a girlfriend and I would be transported from our market town where the shops shut at 6 p.m. to London, the city where the Queen hangs out. And where, judging from the nighttime crowds we saw, nobody goes to bed.
So my train memories were pleasant ones.

Before I moved to the Auburn area, I lived in Sacramento and nurtured my love of trains by taking the Coast Starlight from Sacramento to Santa Barbara to see our son and his family. Dean left Sacramento for Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo after graduating high school. He graduated from college and I hoped he’d come home. He didn’t. He went on to earn post-graduate degrees at UC Santa Barbara. No amount of coaxing could get him to return home. I’d detect a suppressed giggle whenever he’d telephone me during the summer months and ask what the temperature was.

There were a couple of ways I could’ve traveled to Santa Barbara to visit Dean instead of riding the train. I could have flown. I’d be in the air for 90 minutes and another 90 minutes behind the wheel of a rental car headed north. But I avoid flying whenever possible. 

I could’ve driven the total distance which would’ve taken three times longer. But my husband likes to drive and I’m a horrible passenger. I chose instead to shake, rattle and roll my way along the beautiful California coastline for 11 and a half hours! Yes, that’s how much I love trains.

The one disadvantage of traveling by train, as it is with any public transportation, is you have to deal with people, in close quarters. Some of them can be “a bit funny,” as my mum used to say, and she didn’t mean humorous.

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