Tag: iPads

Train times

WE MAY HAVE iPods and iPads and iTunes and even flaming Samsungs today, but we do not have trains. Freight trains are nice, but passenger trains are lovely.

One advantage of being vintage is that you had trains in your life, and now you have trains in your mind.

A railroad track passes directly behind the house across our street. Freights thunder by day and night. My favorite is the 5:45 a.m. Who needs an alarm clock?

Most passenger trains are gone, and we’re left with the occasional line that transports tourists. Alas.

As a child I boarded trains at the huge station in Jacksonville, Florida, and rode 200-plus miles northwest to Sylvester, Georgia, where I stepped down onto dirt.

Grandparents picked me up in an old Ford, and we drove to the farm on rutted, red-clay roads.

new-imageOne evening in 1962 a staff sergeant deposited me at the station in San Antonio, Texas, handing me a ticket and ordering me aboard.

The Air Force paid for a solo sleeper to Rantoul, Illinois. I woke the next morning and watched a forest of white-barked birch trees passing. I’d never seen birches.

Also courtesy of the Air Force, a few months later, I railed from Rantoul to the San Joaquin Valley of California, via Chicago. All the way across much of America.

From New Orleans I would ride the elegant Southern Railway to Atlanta to visit my parents. “Southern Railway Serves the South.” It surely did. But not anymore.

Traveling solo with two bottles of tequila, I rode in a sleeper from Mexico City to Ciudad Juárez. I stood outside on the bucking platform between cars and watched the desert mountains in the distance, which was romantic.

With the woman who’s now my second ex-wife, I took a train from the English Channel to Paris, and a few days later an overnight sleeper to Barcelona.

The following year found me on a train alone from Edinburgh to Inverness and a few days later, with a new traveling companion in the form of a lovely American anthropologist, aboard a train from Inverness to the craggy coast of Scotland.

From there we ferried to the Isle of Skye.

I stood outside, six days later, as my traveling companion, leaned out the train window (just like in the movies) as it pulled from the station in Chester, England, taking her to Wales. My ride, an hour later, went to London.

I never saw her again.

Again with my second ex-wife, I took a train from Los Mochis, Mexico, to Chihuahua with an overnight at the Copper Canyon. After a following night in a Chihuahua hotel, we took a jammed, third-class train to Ciudad Juárez.

That was in the 1980s, and it was my last train ride.

Felipe’s a liberal

LEFTISTS ARE great with words, especially hijacking them, twisting their definitions.

They call themselves progressive and liberal when they are not. Socialism/communism is a political philosophy from a century ago, long proven to not work. Those who embrace it these days are the opposite of progressive.

They are regressive.

Liberal means open-minded and devoted to liberty, so it clearly does not apply to today’s American leftists, the followers of Bernie, Weepy Barry and Liz “Faux Squaw” Warren.

Those who tout their liberalism these days are actually intolerant and narrow. Granted many people consider themselves liberal out of long habit.

They vote Democrat for the same reason.

They’re not bad people. They’re just not paying attention that times and words have drastically changed. Perhaps we should confiscate their iPads so they can pay attention.

I am paying attention, and I am an old-school liberal.

Modern liberals are very different:

liberalism
Modern liberals voice their opinions.

Kite country

STANDING ON the upstairs terraza today at roundabouts 5:30 in the afternoon, I see four kites flying high.

kiteThere are two more — fatalities — dangling in a distant tree on the far side of the railroad tracks. Another one — also deceased — hangs atop the pole where electricity enters the Hacienda.

It’s the same situation every year about this time, but it seems accelerated this year, the kite phenomenon. Do youngsters — or anybody for that matter — fly kites in the United States nowadays? Or does everyone have his face stuck in an iPod? Are kites sold in five-and-dimes? Do five-and-dimes exist? We have a Woolworths in the state capital, but they’ve vanished from the United States, I hear.

I’ve seen lots of kites — both aloft and downed — hereabouts, but not one was store-bought. They are made by kids who tie and glue sticks together, and then they connect a thin plastic sheet, often cut from trash bags. The tails are pieces of trash-bag strips tied together. You gotta have a tail.

I find all this interesting, and for a few years I collected and saved the deceased kites that fell onto the Hacienda or into the yard. But the collection got too large and unwieldy, so I trashed them. The kites of Mexican kids have a high mortality rate because of the string they use. Regular sewing thread, which breaks on a whim.

Last week we were having lunch in the dining room when I looked out the big window and saw a young boy straddling the wall that surrounds our property. He was nervously retrieving a kite that had crashed into the grass. He completed his mission without actually jumping into our yard.

It’s good to see kids with imagination, inventiveness and skill.

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(Note 1: I found the photo online. It appears to be a Mexican child, but the kite is bigger and a bit better made than those found in my area. It might even be store-bought. Click on it for a closer look.)

(Note 2: The Woolworths link takes you to a photo of the old New Orleans store. I remember it well, and I shopped there now and again in the 1970s.)