Simpler Time
January 23, 2018

Train

As i sit here preparing a sermon, I hear the blowing of the train whistle which immediately took me back to my childhood.

I remember on warm summer evenings, not having air conditioning, we’d have all doors and windows open. And whether talking to each other or watching TV, the whistle of the train would drown out, for brief moments, the auditory activity we were engaged in.  At some point, it would become irritating.

I remember trying to get to the east side of my hometown, Sharon, PA, from my parents and my home on the west hill.  There were two ways for us to get there, and both ways involved crossing train tracks.

If I went the way of going through town, there was a chance of being held up by the train. If I went the route of going past the steel mills, the chances of being held up were less, however, and it’s a big however, the wait could be excruciatingly long.

They would stop their railroad cars on the street, blocking them while they attempted to drop the cars off on different tracks. They would back up, just leaving the engine on the road to block us, then pull forward. Repeatedly. Always. So either way, we had to choose our poison on which way to go.

I find it ironic that a year of my life was spent in a steel mill that manufactured, yep, you guessed it, railroad tank cars. Then I moved south, then to rural Pennsylvania where I didn’t have to be bothered with them.

As I’ve moved back to Sharon after 40 plus years of elsewhere, I find the trains  being stopped less irritating. Maybe because I’ve gone away and came home. The saying goes, “You can never go home”, but I did, and it’s good.

It’s January and it’s actually warm today, having my window open, I hear the train whistle and it makes me happy and melancholy at the same time. It’s a throwback to simpler times and places, relatives long gone being still alive and healthy, cares and problems minuscule compared to today, my ’64 Lincoln, walking to school, first dances, sitting by the fires and listening to the whistle blow.

And I always liked train songs. “City of New Orleans” by Arlo Guthrie. “Long Time Blues” by the Smothers Brothers (look it up on YouTube, it’s a cool song). “King of the Road” by Roger Miller. And “Early Morning Rain” by Gordon Lightfoot, about a drunk guy at an airport where he realizes “You can’t jump an airplane, like you can a freight train”.

My friends and I would stand on the bridge where the train drove on and run across it on the railroad ties before the train got to us. Or even wait until the train was close then jump in the Shenango River as the train passes over it. That bridge would really shake. Sometimes when the road was blocked with the train being stopped and I was walking, I’d crawl under the train to get across the road.

And I don’t have regrets in life, if I do, not many. But I’ve always wanted to jump a freight train, ever since I was a kid. Just hop on an empty car and see where it takes me. That would be fun. Reality tells me, that at 62, that would be  foolish. And dangerous. So I live with the fact that it would have been very cool.

And the sweet reminder of a simpler time, thanks to the engineer who blew his horn as he passed through Sharon, Pennsylvania tonight.

 

 

 

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So Unfo……what was I talking about?
June 11, 2017

 

forgetful

So, the one thing I am consistent on is my inconsistency. I didn’t realize that it has been two months since my last blog. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say, as that rarely happens, but it’s not on my radar. I forget. I’m not focused.

I love writing (or typing) but it appears that I am not doing what I love to do best. Well, obviously, EATING is what I do best, and I do that well, thank you.

But I find I am getting forgetful. Age? Maybe. Too busy? Doubtful. Not focused? Bingo! Hold your cards, we have a Bingo! Again, hold your cards, we have a Bingo!

I am the least focused person I know. Example, just today. I go to pay for something today at the store and you have to put your card in with the chip to pay for it. So I wait…..and I wait…. then I ask the lady, “Does this machine not have a chip and I have to swipe it?”. She says, “No, it has the chip”. So I wait. Bonnie leans over and tells me, “You put the card in backwards.” As she always says, I’m not “in the moment”.

Then I go to the car and as I head for the door, I think, “Why is Bonnie driving?”. Well, she wasn’t, I was, but I apparently was heading for the passenger door. Forgetful. Not in the moment. Unfocused.

I have lived in the Shenango Valley for 55 of my 61 years. I walk in Buhl Park anywhere from 3-5 times a week. I love that park. But like today, I go to head to my car and Bonnie is going a different direction. I realize that I am headed for the wrong parking lot. I quickly catch up to her and pretend nothing happened.

Have you ever driven somewhere and as you’re driving, think, “I don’t know where I am or where I am going”? I’m not talking driving through Moscow, but your town, your county, places you’ve traveled your whole life. I have to focus on where I’m going.

Now I’m not really worried about this as I’ve been this way most of my life. I remember as a teenager driving home from Canfield, Ohio toward my home in Sharon, PA. I’m thinking, “take 11 South”, so I go. And I go. And I go. And I’m thinking, “I don’t remember it being this long”. My buddy Chuck was with me and I say, “are we going the right way”? He tells me that we are. So I drive. I saw a sign that said “Airport 12 miles”. I’m thinking I took a wrong turn and am heading toward Vienna, Ohio airport. It wasn’t until I saw the sign saying “Welcome to West Virginia”, I realized I needed 11 North, and the airport I was 12 miles from was Pittsburgh, PA, not Vienna, Ohio. I stop at a gas station for directions and watch two guys lifting their engine out of their truck with a two by four. West Virginia.

Yeah, that’s me. Unfocused.

Praying is hard for me. As I’m a preacher, that’s not good! I’ll be praying and in the middle say “Is that coffee I smell? Gee, what will I eat for breakfast? Did the Yankees win last night?”.  Then I try hard to go back, and start thinking about the day, the night, the anything, and I’ve spent 10 minutes praying, and the only one prayed for is my dog because he’s sitting in front of me. It’s work.

I start conversations and never finish them. Ben says, “What?”. I ask him what he’s talking about. He said, “You started a sentence and never finished it”. I tell him, “Be quiet and watch the game”. Then I realize he turned the channel and he’s watching SportsCenter now. Unfocused.

So, I attempt to be focused. It’s not easy for me. Maybe for you that is reading this, maybe you can’t relate, particularly if you’re a female. But fortunately for this country of ours, the draft ended and I didn’t have to go to the military. Because, it would be quite possible I would end up wandering into a Vietnamese village asking if this was West Virginia.

 

P.S. I had to edit this blog. I said I walked 3-5 times a day in the park. I wish! It’s 3-5 times a week, so I changed it because, Hey look! A squirrel.

 

273.6/257.2

Flying, Airports, and Adam-12
May 22, 2012

Well, here it is. Heading to California again to visit Luke and Amanda. Bonnie, Ben, and I. I love California. I love LA, Moorpark, Simi, etc.

I love airports. I love the planes, the look, the signs, running through Houston airport because my flight was late, arriving at Gate 2 and my connecting flight in 10 minutes is at Gate 52. Yes, I really like airports.

Everytime I’m at the airport, Jimmy Buffett’s “Changing in Latitudes, Changing in Attitudes” comes to mind. “Reading departure signs in some big airport, reminds me of the places I’ve been”.  Brings back many good memories (and a couple bad ones).

I was flying into Pittsburgh from Orlando, and the pilot says, “We will be weathering some disturbance”. The plane dropped 2000 feet (ok, maybe NOT that much, but enough to make me wish I’d written a will) immediately. The lady next to me had wine, it hit the ceiling and spilled on us. Two rows back someone was puking. I don’t believe the pilot “weathered” it very well. So that’s the bad experience. But I still love to fly.

 

I like the display of “confiscated weapons” that Cleveland airport has. Makes you feel safe that they confiscated a BUTCHER KNIFE and HAND GRENADE before they boarded. That was, of course, all before 9/11.

 

Now when I travel, I love to see the security let the man in the turban pass without notice, while they frisk an old lady like it’s their first date. Ah, political correctness, but that’s for another post.

 

One of the greatest views I had was flying into Newark, NJ and the sun was just beginning to set. We flew out over the ocean to circle in and I looked out and there was the Statue of Liberty. It was humbling and I  wondered how my grandfathers felt when they came over from Italy and they saw that beautiful lady. They came through on Ellis Island and became US citizens and got jobs to support my parents. They didn’t sneak over a border and get welfare, but again, political correctness is for another post.

 

I remember flying into LA at night, with all the lights. Gorgeous. Flying above the clouds from Ft. Lauderdale to Pittsburgh and going through the clouds to snow and overcast. Taking off over Detroit and getting a Goodyear Blimp view of the Tigers and Lions stadiums. The Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Home.

 

Flying over Pike’s Peak and thinking how small it looked. Seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Saying, “wow, those people look like ants” and Ben saying, “Dad, they are ants, we haven’t taken off yet”.

 

Being on the plane and Bonnie telling me to turn down my I-Phone music because it was bothering the other passengers. This was with my headphones on. I may have hearing issues.

 

I don’t travel much. That little Facebook thing that asks, “how many states have you been in” came in at about 25, which includes Texas because of the airport. I’ll add Arizona for the home flight. That’s 26.

 

I hope I can travel more. Maybe I’ll get lucky and meet famous people at the airport. My niece Dee Dee meets presidents, singers, etc. My claim to fame was meeting the two guys from Adam-12 when they flew into Youngstown to perform in a play with their spouses. Cool at the time. To everyone under 50, Adam-12 was a cop show on TV. Yes, it was in color.

 

My wife met the Yankees in Toronto airport back in the 70’s. Lou Piniella tried to hit on her. Too bad “Sweet Lou”, I got her. I’d love to meet someone famous at an airport.

 

I’m heading to Haiti in September and January for a mission trip. I look forward to this so much. I’m sure “African Friend” by Jimmy Buffett will go through my mind at the airport in Haiti.

 

So we’re going to California. I love California. (Did I say that already?) Maybe I’ll meet someone famous. Either way, I’ll see someone who already is famous to me but is going to be famous to everyone else. Luke. And that works for me.