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please don’t tell them which train I’m on, so they won’t know what route I’ve gone

July 28, 2008

It’s a quiet quiet night. No sirens, no train whistles, no tires screeching, echoing machinery… not even any wind.

Of course, it’s Sunday– I suppose that makes a difference.

One of the things people who move here notice, and seem to like (one of the few things) is the sound of train whistles. It’s a sound I associate with a fast-receding past, the sound of a small town, sleeping away and dreaming of far-off cities.

It reminds me of Willa Cather novels.

So when I read this quote, I was a little taken aback:

“It’s a constant source of irritation for many people in this community. If there are 40 trains that are going to be doing that all during the day and night, it will exacerbate a nuisance that a lot of people would like to see stopped entirely. We are very concerned about this.”

Says the mayor.

Donny Freitas… GET A GRIP!. Do you have any idea what the real problems are in this community? It is not train whistles blowing on a quiet summer night, or people with boats parked in their driveways.

Trains are one of the few real, purposeful, interesting things we have left around here.

Now, he does have some legitimate concerns, which center around the fact that the railroads are planning to resume using the old tracks that go through the center of town. And with the changes in population and traffic patterns, and the fact that they currently look like some rusted artifact from the nineteenth century, I guess I also wonder about how this would be implemented safely.

But I’m tired of the way the mayor and the city council cast as evil everything which does not fit in with their greedy and tiny-minded vision of endless strip malls and cookie cutter houses.

The world is changing, and it might just be an advantage, as well as a liability, to have a greater rail presence in this town.

If nothing else, after the City Council has trashed the landscape beyond repair and destroyed all sense of community, the sound of a train whistle will remind us that there’s still a way out.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2008 9:06 PM

    You might enjoy this poem
    THE railroad track is miles away,
    And the day is loud with voices speaking,
    Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
    But I hear its whistle shrieking.
    All night there isn’t a train goes by,
    Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
    But I see its cinders red on the sky,
    And hear its engine steaming.
    My heart is warm with the friends I make,
    And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
    Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
    No matter where it’s going.
    Edna St. Vincent Millay

    • July 29, 2008 5:56 AM

      Re: You might enjoy this poem
      Thank-you so much… that is beautiful, and haunting. I’ve never heard it before– I know quite a few train songs, but this is my first train poem…

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