Thursday, August 11, 2011
Of Trains and History, of Wanderlust and Home
My father worked for the railroad as did his father before him. Grandfather came to the US from the UK in the late 19th century. He was on his way to Australia to be with cousins because there were no jobs for him in England. The future for him was only in the Empire. But Grandpa’s trip over was traumatic and he refused to get on another ship. Even a small boat on the lake would make him ‘white-knuckled’. So he wound up in Iowa working for the Burlington-Quincy Railroad. He was a surveyor. He met his wife who was the daughter of the owner of a boarding house for railroad workers.
I watched throughout my youth the decline of the railroads and the end of passenger service. I was well into my twenties before I ever flew. When we visited grandmothers, it was always by rail. But by the 1970’s I was no longer on my dad’s pass and Amtrack never held the thrill that riding the Texas Chief had had.
Ft. Worth is experiencing a boom like it never has. I believe we are growing faster than any city in the South. I am surprised at how many of my high school classmates have returned to Ft. Worth after having spent most of their lives, like me, elsewhere. It isn’t as if Ft. Worth is the nirvana of TX. It may just be that all the mobility of my contemporaries’ adulthood has said it is time for the idea of ‘home’ to predominate. I certainly find it so.