I likes me some trains. Always have. Rode em to death when I lived in Europe. They sway, back n forth, back n forth. Soothing. Specially at night time. You almost can’t NOT sleep at night on a train. Trains lull you to slumberland. That’s their job. That’s why no train has ever been robbed at night. The intentional robbers fall asleep against their will. Happens every time. Fact. Look it up.
And the clicking. The wheels going over the cracks between the rails. It disappears after a while, as you back burner it, but it’s always there. Just waiting for you to drop your guard, then the clicking starts all over again, then disappears again as your mind wanders. Trains make you think. Can’t help it. And remember. Can’t help that neither. One more thing on the trains resume.
The European trains were divided into little compartments with an aisle down 1 side. You could go into a compartment and slide the pocket door shut. Peace. As long as you had it to yourself which I frequently did. The big window occupied almost the whole wall, down to about 2 feet above the floor. It was like flying, about 8 feet above the ground. And backward if you preferred as there was a bench seat on either side.
I sat on the back porch of a caboose one time on a little stool the conductor placed there. Watching the track disappear in the distance. I broke out the sketchpad and drew what I saw. The track started as a dot at the top center of the page and spread out into a triangle as it got to the bottom. I filled the page with the landscape I saw and flipped that page over and continued on the next page. This time the triangle was truncated, the top was cut off, and it still kept spreading and I kept drawing. The top of the railing was at the top of the page and the thin steel pickets below it and down at the bottom of that page was the stretched steel fencing floor and my feets so I turned the page again and kept sketching. Page 3 showed the back of me with the railing in front of me and the landscaping from page 1 smaller and getting distant. the view was through the window in the rear door looking out onto the porch. The up-close woodgrain of the door and, using artistic leeway, I drew the much lower latch mechanism higher so that it would be in the scene, but most of the action was out through the small round cornered window. Flip to sheet 4 and the rearmost seats were visible and also the topmost part of my skull through the now smaller door window. There was a young fraulein in one of the seats and she held a cat and wore typical traditional Deutch attire. Lederhosen, etc. I did about a dozen pages altogether, changing seats frequently and drinking dark brews slowly.
Many years later I scanned those sketches into the computer and after making copies I reduced them in size to 240×240 and printed them out. I cut them out with scissors, stacked them on top of each other in reverse order and stapled them together. Now, the pages could be fanned from the bottom (like the bottom right corners of the pages in “The Whole Earth Catalog”) and a “movie” could be seen of what I seen that day 30 years prior. It’s best to view it while sitting down for when viewing it it appears you are moving backwards and more than 1 person I have showed it to has lost their balance.
Yes, I likes me some trains. In 2000 I went into a train store and purchased an MTH O gauge Christmas train and a bunch of accessories, spending far more than I imagined trains cost. I had never owned a train before cept maybe a cheap battery powered one when I was little. This MTH train was BIG. The locomotive is a 4-8-8-4 and is about 14 inches long. The tender is another foot long. And they talk to each other and there’s an internal computer chip involved and a remote control. It plugs into the wall, makes smoke, rings the bell, does the whistle, and plays train station sounds. And from a wireless source, it will play Christmas or any other type of music or sounds that I want. I’ve added to this set over the years and though I only set it up at Christmas time it takes all day to get it right. 27 cars as of this writing, some buildings, a bridge, a snow-covered lake with skaters I made from a scrap piece of mirror. And on and on. It circles the tree several times, up, up, and finally over the fireplace hearth then down, down, down, the other side. Smokin and chuggin the whole way. The cats are mesmerized when seeing it. The first time they were terrified and flew but then they slowly got used to it and started coming around. Caramel is the most drawn to it. I have to keep her back. Know how I do that? When she gets too close I hold the bell button down on the remote then hit the bellowing whistle button and she lays skid marks out of here. Careful though. Caramel is a big gurl, about 22 lbs, so when she ignites Christmas trees can teeter. Careful.
Then about a week after Christmas the whole thing reverses. Takes all day, cause I do it right. All the cars are put back in their boxes, wires are wound up and zip tied, trees are pulled backwards down their plastic tubes, batteries removed from the remote, etc. It’s a teary day when the train goes away….until next year.
I likes me some trains and we live about a mile from one and I hear it 2 times a day. On winter days, and nights, when the leaves are gone, I can stand on the back porch on the 2nd floor and peer through the skeletonized trees into the valley below and see the train and hear it’s mournful moan as it crosses the highway, goes around the curve, and disappears into the distance, like that track in my sketches so long ago. I likes me some trains.
— ghostsniper January 22, 2019, 9:11 AM