Late in the 1945, a Navy ship with my father aboard docked in San Diego. The war was over and Dad was going home. A train carried him across the country that he had fought in the Pacific to preserve and protect. He rode through the small towns and the big cities. He watched other servicemen reunited with their family on the platforms of small stations scattered across the nation. He dozed in his coach seat while America streamed by the window.
At the end of the journey, he stepped off the train onto the platform of the small station in the southwest Virginia town where I was born. He was home.
It was a time when the railroad was still woven into the fabric of everyday life. The train promised adventure and new destinations. The train brought people home again. The railroad played a unique role in our history and in our collective consciousness. Today those memories still resonate along empty tracks, abandoned stations, rusting cars on forgotten sidings.
Thanksgiving, 1945 was a day of special meaning as families sat down at the table to give thanks for loved ones safely home, and to remember those who would not be coming home.
Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the United States, and The Trackside Photographer will be taking the day off. Be sure to join us again on November 30 for a first-hand account of a thunder storm, a slipped pinion, and a disabled locomotive. It's "All in a Night's Work."