trains, trains and more trains (haibun)

© C.L.R. CNRail - Toronto to Montreal '14

I grew up in a town nicknamed "hogtown". That is a term given to places that  have many "train engineers"...I think anyway.  Many family members on my mother's side worked for CPRail and my mother took my sister and me regularly on the train that left Farnham to Montreal at Windsor Station.

© C.L.R. Windsor Station - Montreal - 2014

CP has sold off certain sections of their rails to an American company...yes, yes, that was the one that is responsible for the tragic explosion in Lac Megantic last summer.  And yes, I know personally some people involved...such a tragedy.

Now back to this train town...if a long freight train passes through (and there were too many, let me tell you) motorists were often blocked from fifteen minutes to an hour.  The cause of course that the freight was so long it blocked all the railroad crossings.

I remember as a driver, seeing the freight train arriving at one end of the town near the Military base, I would step on the gas to get to another crossing before the train blocked me from getting home.

But as a young child, I suppose we enjoyed watching the trains, those huge steel wheels.  My grandmaman lived 4 houses by the tracks...the busiest railroad crossing by the river.  I ran across the tracks just as the bells were ringing and seconds before the gate was lowered hearing the man at the wooden tower yell at me.  I sure wouldn't do that now but as a child we see our peers brave it, so why not.

There was a dog across the street that ran only on 3 three legs. The story goes that he got a leg caught under a was a schnoodle but in the 60's we just call him a mix. He was a lively fella and ran pretty fast...we could never catch up to him. But if he came on his own free will, well he just washed your face with his lickin' {smiles}

We could see the dam from my Grandmaman'shouse {which became my home too as a teen) and over that dam was a train bridge. Now if you had friends on the other side, it was very frustrating having to cross only the regular car bridge to get home. I know many of my peers would cross that bridge ...bravely...I did it only once but being mostly a goodie two shoes and scarety cat, once was enough.  But I remember how amazed I was at how quickly I could get to that other literally saved a pedestrian an I get it.

In those days, most folks knew the time that regular freight trains would pass that bridge ...but what if there was an extra load on the way?  Yeah, I often thought of many "what if's".

When we were newly weds, we lived in a small furnished studio apartment over a bowling alley.  Yes, there was noise until 11:00 PM and as the building quieted so everyone could sleep, the shunting of trains began behind us were about a dozen tracks and we were 2 minutes from the passenger station.   This place was worse than my home by the river.  The good thing was you could never be afraid of thunder storms, you just had to imagine they were the trains at it again.

© C.L.R. view from my childhood home, train bridge. 2014

noontime freight
village held hostage
cold soup

braving shortcuts
dodging the two o’clock
whistle blows

by the tracks
houses tremors to quake,
shunting at night

shunting at twilight
toddler wails, nightmares

end of the world

© Tournesol '14

Posted by Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, 2014/09/18

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