Railroad tracks - Public Domain Photo
Growing up on the farm, we lived about a mile from the railroad tracks, maybe less. I’m not too good at distance. Our grandparent’s house was just off the highway and beyond that were the railroad tracks. Our house was further away from the highway, down a winding gravel road.
In our childhood games, we would walk to the highway and look across the road to watch the freight trains coming down the tracks, so we could wave to the man in the caboose. I wonder what he thought about a bunch of dirty, barefoot farm kids standing there waving like mad. He always waved at us, and I imagine we weren’t the only ones to do this. We were always looking for entertainment.
We spent the night at Mamaw’s house several times during the summer. We would lie in the bed and watch the reflection of light that ran across the walls, left by cars going down the highway. We heard the wailing horn of the freight trains across the road, as they passed by the house.
Every year, we would walk across the highway to the railroad tracks to pick the wild blackberries that grew there, taking ladders with us to throw over the brambles of berry bushes that grew in large clumps, dense as a thicket.
Blackberries - Public Domain Photo
However, the scariest things to us were the hobos. In those days, they travelled by riding the boxcars, jumping off and wandering to the farmhouses in search of a meal. At first, we didn’t know what to think. They scared us to death, scruffy old men in need of a bath and a shave. They were dressed in shabby clothes and worn out shoes, carrying the typical stick over there shoulder with all they owned tied up in a bandanna or worn-out rag, just like something out of the movies on TV.
Hobos - Public Domain Photo
Old Boxcar - Courtesy of Wikipedia