I Remember the Train

30 April 2004

Excitement in the Roth-Gates household: Kris testified this morning at the inquest for the Serey-Perez shooting, which has been the big news story around Portland this past month. She was nervous, but thought things went well.


Kris’ sister, Tiffany, is in town for a few days. After I picked her up from the airport yesterday afternoon, we had some time to kill before picking Kris up from the Crime Lab, so Tiff let me stop at Future Dreams to look at comics. I found some old issues of Action Girl, and picked up the latest black-and-white compilations of Daredevil and Tomb of Dracula.

We killed the rest of the time by winding our way across Portland. At one point, we drove past Union Station, Portland’s train depot. “I’ve never been on a train,” Tiffany said. I told her that I made at least one trip when I was a boy. I’ve considered making others now that I’m adult, but I never remember that it’s an option. There’s something romantic about a train, you know?

Here are my train memories (and they’re few):

  • I’m young — maybe five or six or seven. My family is at Union Station in Portland to pick up a relative. Grandpa? Mom’s brother? There are people all about, but the place is not full. I don’t know it at the time, but the place feels old-fashioned. Looking back, I remember high ceilings and shiny floors and architecture of the twenties or thirties or forties. I ought to be fascinated with the trains, like Jeff is, but I’m fascinated by the comic books instead. There’s a rack of them at a newsstand, and I look through the ones I can reach.
  • I’m still young — am I in school yet? I’m down at Grandpa’s house. He’s babysitting me. We’re by ourselves. We drive to Canby and we stop at the train station where we wait for somebody to arrive. The Canby train station is nothing more than a platform, really, a wooden structure with a couple of benches and a ticket booth. I’m very excited to see the train.
  • I’m in first grade. All of us in Mrs. Onion’s class are participating in a patriotic Bicentennial pageant. We boys wear powdered wigs and march in circles singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”. We learn about George Washington and Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. One day Dad takes us to see the Freedom Train. We park near the Oregon City Marina (why? — Mom, do you remember?) and wait to watch the train race by. Dad helps me place a penny on the track. After the train passes, I have a flattened piece of copper (or zinc, as the case may be) that I treasure for years.
  • I’m in second grade. Mrs. Vogeltanz is taking the class on a field trip to the State Capitol building in Salem. We don’t take the bus. We four blocks from Eccles school to the train platform. We get on the train and we ride to Salem. It’s very exciting, especially for the boys. We look out the windows, watch the fields go by. We disembark just a couple of blocks from the capitol. I don’t remember anything else about the field trip other than we got to ride the train home, too. A field trip on a train, not on a bus.

That’s it. I have four memories of the train. Yet, like the children I know now (especially Antonio), I romanticize the train. I always think to myself that someday I will ride it again. Kris and I have discussed taking the train to see a Mariners game, but we’ve always rejected the idea as too expensive. I’ve considered a train trip to Minneapolis to see Dana, but I’ve never explored the cost or time. What if we took a train trip to see Kris’ family?

I want to love the train, to have more memories of it, but I probably never will.

Comments


On 30 April 2004 (12:41 PM),
Lynn said:

There’s a new Amtrak station in Oregon City now. We (my mom, my niece and I) are thinking about going to Seattle for a girls’ weekend. I’ve heard the prices aren’t too bad, but haven’t checked into them yet. I considered a train ride to Ashland to the Shakespeare festival, but the schedules didn’t work out. That is a trip I would still like to take.



On 30 April 2004 (12:59 PM),
Mom (Sue) said:

Now I’ll have to be sure to watch the news tonight and read the newspaper coverage of the Perez trial tomorrow. Good going, Kris!

I’m not sure why you would have parked near the Oregon City marina to watch the Freedom Train go by, J.D., other than that it’s a place where the highway is really close to the train tracks and they’re safely and easily accessible.

Jeff is more likely to remember a train trip as I took him with me to Utah on one occasion via the train. He may have only been about 7 at the time, though. I’m thinking I may have taken Tony one other time and he would have been even younger then. I think you got left out, J.D. My apologies. :-) I don’t remember much more about family members going on trains other than a trip I made alone after my grandfather died, but then my aging grey matter sometimes doesn’t produce the appropriate memories.



On 30 April 2004 (01:02 PM),
pril said:

my dad always took me to TravelTown at Griffith Park (in LA) when i was small. What a blast that was. He loved trains and still does! One thing i remember was a trip to San Diego, we took the Amtrak. Dad got hold of the engineer and asked if he could see the inside of the cab. The guy said sure and let both of us come in and sit in his seat in the cab for a few minutes. I was thrilled.. my dad … i’m sure he probably nearly soiled himself with glee over that.

Down here in CB the local rail fan club is rebuiling Engine 104- a Baldwin 2-8-2 built in 192sth to run timber from Powers to Coos Bay. It sure is neat! I heard they are going to get it running instead of just doing the cosmetics, and i really do hope they get it running.

I love to stand down by the docks at the railyard and watch the trains. And now it’s even better, since the Lady Washington is docked there, too, for a couple of days (fully working replica of an 18th century barque like the ones that explored the coast here).



On 30 April 2004 (02:06 PM),
Dana said:

When I was at Willamette, I took the train back and forth from Boise a few times (because of the weirdness of the train schedules, I had to take a bus from Salem to Portland in order to avoid a 23 hour layover…). I eventually stopped when a train back after a Christmas break was 10 hours late because of snow in the Blues. From then until I got my own car I took the bus, which was far far far less comfortable, but never got stuck because of weather. Blech.

When I was sent to England for work (which was pretty fun, really) we took a train from Gatwick to London, swapped to the tube, then swapped back to another train which went from London to Leeds. Quite fun and comfortable, even if not always exactly on time…

More recently, at Christmas 2002, when I was last in the Pacific Northwest, I took the train from Seattle down to Portland. It was a fantastic trip for lots of reasons — they showed a movie, every seat had power outlets, and all kinds of keen things. I’ve heard they are putting (or perhaps already have put) wi-fi in the cars, too, and I know they have an option to bring a bicycle along.

This would be the same train JD and Kris would take to see a Mariner’s game, by the way…

To get here looks like a two-day trip by train. Leave late on a Friday, get in early on a Sunday, frex — you’d need a sleeping compartment or you’d have to sleep in your seat (which, granted, are fairly comfortable).



On 30 April 2004 (03:06 PM),
Jeff. said:

Mom said: Jeff is more likely to remember a train trip as I took him with me to Utah on one occasion via the train. He may have only been about 7 at the time, though.

Actually, I was 10 (I think I was in Utah for my 11th birthday). I know it had to be just after Raiders of the Lost Ark came out, because I remember thinking that Uncle Frank (with his stubly beard) looked just like Indiana Jones.

I main things I remember about the train ride was the long stretches of sparse vegetation through Central Oregon and Idaho.

I have a few other memories of trains:

-I remember going into the Canby Depot with Grandpa. I think it is the same memory JD has, but I distinctly remember the old, white, drinking fountains inside the depot; so I’m pretty sure I went inside.

-I remember being able to hear the train whistle blowing even though we were 5 miles away from the tracks.

-I remember being at the Oregon City Marina (South of Canemah) and us boys getting to close to the tracks as a train was passing by. Boy was dad ever mad at us (now I understand why).



On 30 April 2004 (04:41 PM),
Mom (Sue) said:

You were 10? I told you my rememberer wasn’t much good. :-/ Do you remember the fights between your Grandma McClellan and Aunt Jo that took place during that trip? That’s mostly what I remember about it, although we also took you to Saltair, a big amusement park near Salt Lake, as well as to the Salt Lake zoo. I remember you having a nice time (and I would have, too, if it hadn’t been for the fights) but you were a dream to take with me — good as gold.



On 30 April 2004 (04:55 PM),
Andrew Parker said:

I remember the Mrs. Vogeltanz field trip — barely — and recall that we had to write haikus about the trip. Very Canby, very 70s.

The tracks ran along the property line behind our rear pasture. My sister and a few other kids smashed countless pennies and at least one precious quarter back there, and of course we heard the soft rumble (and occasionally a whistle) late every night and early every morning…

Down here one of the old freight lines into San Jose has been revitalized into a high-tech commuter route, acerail.com. Geeks love it!



On 01 May 2004 (09:26 AM),
mac said:

This past Christmas, Pam and I took the train from Flagstaff, AZ to Los Angeles, CA to see our families. It was an overnight train, but we didn’t want to spring for the sleeper car because the seats were supposed to be “fairly comfortable.” It was the worst trip I’ve ever taken in my life. When we got on the train, they told us it was overbooked and that we’d have to wait in the lounge car until people got off at the next couple of stops. So Pam and I slept on the floor of the lounge car, amidst the old french fries and fast food wrappers, for about an hour and a half. When we got our 2 seats, Pam found hers totally uncomfortable and spent the remaining 8 hours on the floor between two rows of seats. I would take a train to Seattle, but never a longer trip unless I had a sleeper car.



On 01 May 2004 (02:49 PM),
Paul said:

Listened to Kris’ testimony last night on Oregonlive.com. Kris, you sounded very professional. I kind of chuckled though at the word “baggie”. It’s such a loaded word. The word baggie connotes illicit contents (of course there’s crack or pot in a “baggie”).

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