Home > "Ole" Fifty Seven, Fifty Five Is The New > “Ole” Fifty Seven

“Ole” Fifty Seven

My Aunt Anne passed…sending me into a spate of memories.
Sorry it’s been a couple of days again…life’s been kinda crazy lately. Back on track

Everybody’s first friends are usually their siblings and/or relatives and yours truly was no exception. I had a whole raft of companions to choose from! Between my sister, the eldest, and two, then three brothers (I came between brothers number 2 and 3), and assorted nieces, nephews and cousins my dance card could be fairly full. The neighborhood was crawling with kids, too. So isolation was never a problem!

But I did enjoy my solitude; going off by myself to the railroad tracks and beyond…it’s where I met the most interesting people. Some of them lived from one train ride to the next, sleeping when they could behind the billboards at the bottom of the hill where we kids sledded and did other daredevil things, or outside the Philadelphia train yards dodging bulls and bad weather in their rust colored coats, faded levi’s and worn out shoes. I spent many summer afternoons going down the tracks, seeing who was around.

These folks were ragged looking…they spat and swore, but that didn’t bother me. Their stories were worth every peanut butter sandwich and apple swiped for them from home. I’d leave early, paper lunch sack secreted in my back pack and make my way along the silver rails, listening for distant trains.

If anyone was around, I’d pull out the grub, hand it over, sit on a stump or upturned box and listen as guys like Lester Peke, Hap and his dog Muzzer or Blind Mike  talked about Pittsburgh, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and the other great cities. If nobody was around I’d find a comfy spot to watch the world while I ate a half sandwich. I’d always leave the rest behind…just in case somebody hungry came along.

Then I’d make my way home, feet itching to be on my own adventures. Of course this was back in the day when kids could go out and play, with a fairly good chance of coming home. I’m so grateful to have grown up in a time when innocence was still possible…even if ….but that’s another story.

For today, Fifty Five is the New 57…. after Engine #57; one of many great electric/diesel engines pulling the trains that came rumbling through my childhood, carrying freight and fantasy in their deep, dank boxcars.

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