Laying there in the quiet peaceful darkness of the early morning hours, just before sunrise, as the birds began chirping their springtime melodies, all was calm. In the distance I heard the rumble. I first thought it was a plane but, no, I had heard this before, many many times. Then, the distinct sound of the old whistle blowing. For a moment I was confused. A train in the city? But yes, there is a railroad close to the airport, which is not to far away from our house. I just lay there, listening to the lonesome sound of the long drawn out whistles, and it took me back in time, to that small little town that I grew up in. I was overcome with a homesickness, and a loneliness that I had never felt. Once again memories of days gone by................
In my young days families would gather at our house ever so often. All of the cousins, probably at least 12 or 15 of us, would go walking around town and it always ended with a hike down the railroad tracks. Like ducks in a row trying to stay balanced on the rails. Or skipping in between the rails on the boardwalk, as we called it. Laying rocks on the tracks to see if the train would smash them to pieces. Just being together, having fun and enjoying life. Many times we would have to jump off the tracks and let a Cotton Belt train go past us. So big and powerful. The rumble would almost make my heart jump in my chest. Being raised in a town that had a busy railway in its midst, we were taught at a very young age that trains deserved respect, and not get to close to one that was passing by. Looking back, it almost gives me anxiety to think how close to it some of us probably were.
I lived in that small railroad town most of my life. Raised my children there, and taught them the dangers of the trains, just as my parents had taught me. I remember many nights of being awaken by the low steady whistle off in the distance, rumbling and screeching as it would make its way down the winding tracks from one end of the county to the other. It was always such a lonesome sound. Almost like a cry. There were times when it even brought a tear to my eye. Sometimes is was almost haunting and eerie sounding and would make a chill run down my spine. There were times when it would be so loud I would think it might be coming through the middle of our house.
Not to long ago we went back to our home town to visit family and had to stop at the crossing to let a train go by. Again, as it rolled slowly past, hearing the clackity clack of wheels on rail, I was hit with nostalgia as soon as I heard that lonesome whistle blow.
And so hearing that faint whistle blow early this morning brought floods of emotion back to me in a way I haven't felt in a very long time. I wish I could have just one more day with cousins on a railroad track, not caring about tomorrow. One more day of my dad telling me to be careful and watch for trains. One more day of my girls learning to drive and cautioning them vehemently about the trains and what could happen if they too did not respect them. The sound of that lonesome whistle is forever etched in my book of memories and I will visit it from time to time as The Whistle Blows.