Friday, February 5, 2016

Train Kept A-Rollin'

I just heard a train whistle.

It's a beautiful sound.
I've seen people on social media complain bitterly about the "noise" and "disruption" of trains rolling through their communities. To which I say: Have you no idea of the importance and romance of trains in American history? Do you honestly feel your quality of life is diminished by the sound of a train whistle? Are you an asshole in other ways, or only in this one particular area?

Just asking in case your mom was traumatized by a clown making choo-choo noises when she was pregnant with you. In that event, sorry your upbringing has made you  an asshole.

Otherwise, WTF is wrong with you? Train whistles are everything that is right with America.

Along with clipart of iconic moments in our history. Like confetti
that looks vaguely like the Russian alphabet. Just sayin.

When I was younger, I often would stay overnight in my grandparents' spare bedroom. And I would hear trains going by on the tracks that were just a couple of blocks away from their house. I loved that sound. It made me feel and safe and secure, somehow.

Later, when I bought my first house, I would hear trains on the tracks that were a few hundred yards away. Loved it.

My next house was a quarter-mile (or less) from frequently-traveled railroad tracks. The sound was familiar and soothing. Now, there were houses in my neighborhood that literally backed up to those tracks. I have to admit, having trains rattle by just on the other side of my backyard fence would be a little close for comfort. But being just near enough to faintly hear/feel the sound of steel wheels on the rails? That's the sound of home.

And now, I literally reside next to the historical rail switchyard of my little community. My town's original train depot is across the street. At least three sets of tracks criss-cross the intersection where I live. They're not simply vestiges of history. Trains go by regularly. I hear them crying in the night, and during the day they occasionally prevent me from getting where I'm going as I drive.

Artist's rendering of my adopted home town.

In addition to those hardy old railroad tracks, an elevated light rail line runs directly past my apartments. In fact, there's a station just next to that old railroad depot. It will whisk me to downtown Dallas at any time. The sound of those trains is different: a whoosh instead of a rumble, but still the sound of motion and progress. Music to these ears.

My point is, I believe the proximity of train sounds enhances the aesthetic of my neighborhood. To me they represent the comfort of home combined with the romance of travel. I guess some people want to live in a vacuum of silence, or to hear nothing but electronic rain sounds generated by their white-noise machine. Or freaking Rachmaninoff or whatever while they drift into an Ambien-induced sleep.

I'll take the sweet sound of American locomotion, thank you. It's the only sedative I need to feel safe, warm, and sleepy.

Do you like trains, Drunkards?


  1. I'm pro-train. We can hear a train whistle from a few miles away at our house. I love it. About 9 years ago, we took a train from Munich to Florence where we met a lovely Austrian couple who fed us and let Matt practice his German the whole trip. We had a ball. It's a great way to travel.

  2. Love trains -- can hear them from a distance at my house, and grew up near an elevated train in Good Ol' NYC (no whistles, but still rumbly). I ride Amtrak regularly and miss the days of interconnected train routes. If we were meant to fly, we'd have g-d wings!!

  3. I love trains. I love the sound of trains and I love to ride trains. When I was a wee lad I saw an interview with Sterling "General Ripper" Hayden. He would rent a rail car and sit in it and watch the countryside go by. It's safer than doing it the hobo way. I felt he and I were kindred spirits.
    He also said something about lighting up a spliff, which I didn't understand at the time, and I didn't know why the camera guys were laughing.


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