Friday, September 14, 2012

Middle of the Night Alarm

As Dad and I were making the drive home from Omaha on Sunday, we took a shortcut to cut off some miles between Cheyenne and Casper, Wyoming.  We took a state highway that connected us to Casper while skipping Cheyenne entirely.  As the night deepened, Dad and I noticed the almost constant flow of trains.  I haven't seen that many trains for along time.  We counted at least 15 separate trains.  I can tell you that it caused us to find a hotel nearer the Interstate...and far away from the constant horns of the trains.

I was reminded of a story that Mom used to tell.  Back in 1965, my Dad's parents moved down to the Portland, OR area.  They eventually bought a house in Canema - which is near Oregon City.  They told my parents that they would love the location.  It was quiet and somewhat secluded.  I'm not sure they were right on either level.  Anyway, Mom and Dad began the trek to Oregon which is at least a six hour trip.  As I wasn't born quite yet, they had three young children to deal with.  One of whom made a habit of throwing his shoes out the window.  They made the obligatory stop at Multnomah Falls to ooh and aah over the site of the water crashing down to the pool below.  After corralling my siblings, Mom and Dad got back in the car for the last push into Portland.  Back then you had to go up 82nd Street which turned into McLaughlin Blvd - I always remembered the site of the B-25 Bomber that was held up in air with a gas station below.  Eventually, my parents got to Canema to my grandparents new home.  It was somewhat secluded - meaning that it was off the road about 100 yards from 99E.  It was actually very quiet...except at night.

I'm sure Mom and Dad bedded down my siblings in sleeping bags on the floor, while my parents took residence in the spare bedroom.  Soon they were blissfully sleeping and enjoying their rest from the journey of  the previous day.  However, at about 3 am - they were awakened with the blast from the train horn as it barreled down the tracks almost right outside the window.

A trip to the Zoo on the first trip to Portland - about 1965
When Mom and Dad came into the kitchen the next morning, my grandmother asked them if they slept well -  they said "Yeah...until about 3 am!"  My grandmother didn't really understand until they mentioned the train.  She then commented that she never really heard it.  I guess you certainly do get used to sounds in the night that are familiar...I sleep next to the furnace room and think nothing of the noise and my father hears the grandfather clock chiming every hour and doesn't really notice it.  However, I must admit that I am not sure a train running down the tracks next to my bedroom window would be something that I would get used to!