A private railroad car is not an acquired taste. One takes to it immediately. ~ Eleanor Robson Belmont
In a recent post, I shared the story of my grandfather and his college social club “key”. As he rode the train from Waco, Texas up to Washington & Lee in the early 1920’s, he encountered a young, black porter who mistook that key for an esteemed Phi Beta Kappa key.
Read what happened then: https://pewperson.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/the-key/
My grandfather’s story brought to mind another train story, this one from the days immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, as told to me by a fellow alumna of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (R-MWC).
As an active volunteer for R-MWC (now Randolph College, an awesome co-ed institution) in Lynchburg, VA, I’ve met some of the most remarkable women I’ve ever known. They were and continue to be dedicated supporters of our college, from every decade from the 1930’s to the present.
After Pearl Harbor was bombed, the students at R-MWC were called to assembly by President Jack. He gathered them together and told them to all go home; the rest of the semester and finals had been cancelled. He knew that all modes of transportation would soon be overwhelmed, and he just wanted his students to get home safely.
My friend Connie needed to get back to Ohio by train. She and a friend booked passage in a sleeping berth; because the train was so crowded, the two of them shared that berth, sleeping head to foot.
Connie had to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. She carefully crawled back into her berth, trying not to awaken her friend.
When morning arrived, Connie was HORRIFIED, MORTIFIED and AGHAST to discover that she had crawled into the wrong berth and had spent the rest of the night with a strange man! She shrieked and fled…
…and was once again embarrassed to see him across the dining car at breakfast! The only thing that would have made this story better is if she ended up marrying him or something, but as it turns out, they were merely “strangers in the night”.
(doo be doo be doo)
I LOVE that story!
Traveling cross country, whether by train or plane or even bus, used to be a special privilege, somewhat romantic and an occasion for which to dress appropriately. Walking through airports today, I miss that element of elegance. But I do cherish the old stories about how it used to be, and even remember dressing up to travel back in my younger years.
I still try my best to be a good example of what is “appropriate” in this day and age. But so sorry, but there are no hats, gloves or stockings for me. Rather it’s “tasteful casual”, for what it’s worth.
Oh, and let’s not forget the comfortable shoes, in case one needs to dash to a gate (after removing them to be x-rayed)! So much for the romance of traveling… alas, that is truly a civilization gone with the wind.