I expect that the number of people who remember the Rock Island’s premier passenger train “The Golden State” is fewer than those who regularly eat liver and onions. Therefore, it is unlikely that you found this blog searching for information about that train. No matter. Now that you are here you can learn a little about the train, but not a lot. This blog isn’t about trains. It’s about current events. But I grew up in the 1950’s and my maternal grandmother lived in a little town along the route of “The Golden State.” We visited several times a year and the grownups were kind and took me down to the station to watch the train go through town. This was true love, for the train was always late, sometimes hours late, and there was in those days no way to find out how late it would be on a given evening. So they would take me to the station and we would wait, and wait, and wait. Eventually, the western light would turn red and we knew the train was coming.
It didn’t stop in the small western Kansas town. It went through at about 75mph. The entire event, for which we had sometimes waited three hours, lasted about 8 or 9 seconds. But it is the most vivid memory of my childhood. I can close my eyes and be back there in less time than it took the train to pass by. I can feel the summer heat, see the summer sun setting over wheat and corn, smell the pastures and town, hear the whistle which always began while the train was obscured by the small green station, feel the ground shaking, see the Mars headlight flashing and always I see the mailbag ripped from the mail hook as the train thundered by, whistle sounding. It was Number 4, headed east and it was glorious.
The train is gone now. So is the Rock Island, lost in the swirl of bankruptcy and history. Normally, I am not a nostalgic person. But about that train and that portion of my childhood, I am. Which is one of the reasons I named this blog after it. The things we love are here and then they are gone. The intensity of the love we may have for a thing or a sentient being, does not keep it here nor hasten its departure. We have little control over many of the things that mean the most to us. And that, I suspect, will be a recurring theme underlying many of the entries here. But I will write them in an attempt to affect the world around us, at least about the issues of the day about which I know a little. Will it matter in the long run? Probably not. But it may be that it is the journey which is important, not the destination.
I know of only one song about the Rock Island’s Golden State. You can hear an excerpt of it here. If any reader knows of any other songs about the train, please leave a comment and tell me where to find it. For that matter, let me know anything you know about “The Golden State.” Just because this blog is really not about the train doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn everything I can about it. And who knows, maybe a reader or two really will find it searching for the fabled Golden State.