Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

Travel by Train

Yvonne White

Train travel seemed to be a thing of the past, until my experience this year. I always thought, “Why travel by train when I can fly and get there quicker?”

This year we were in Germany and saw the fast efficient trains with great schedules and good value. We just observed, but learned that one can travel in Germany on a German Pass and get another pass in Austria. We also were in San Diego, California, and rode the Coaster train from Oceanside to downtown Santa Fe Station for $5.50 round trip.

Sixty-five years ago, my grandfather Adolph took his three grandchildren from Bay City, Michigan, to Durand, Michigan, on a North Central Beeliner. It was about a 200-mile roundtrip ride. Grandpa had lived in Peoria, Illinois, and moved to Michigan. Once a year he would take the train to Chicago and then on to Peoria. He wanted his grandchildren to have the experience of riding the train.

In 1960, I was grateful to have had that previous experience. I attended Colorado State College in Greeley, Colorado. The first year I couldn’t get a ride home at Christmas, so I took the Union Pacific from Greeley to Chicago and then up to Flint, Michigan, near my hometown of Bay City, Michigan. The porter on the Union Pacific treated two other girls and me to a soda up in the scenic car. At that time he was proud that the Union Pacific went 90 miles per hour across the prairie states. I did have a frightening experience when we stopped at the LaSalle Street Station in Chicago. A 40- or 50-year-old man followed me. I had a three-hour connection with the North Central train and spent the three hours in the ladies restroom. I was 18 years old and there wasn’t much security. (I flew back to Greeley and a roommate picked me up in Denver.) I was down on train travel! Grandpa Adolph was all excited to talk to me about my train trip and I gave him the train schedule for Union Pacific.

In the 70s, my husband and I took the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge train ride that took all day. It was a beautiful ride, but a bit unsettling to get the coal ash blown at us.

In retirement, we took the Verde Valley ride in Arizona which was also a beautiful ride with music for a background. We also took the Alamosa, Colorado, to New Mexico train ride which wasn’t spectacular, but a time to see that part of the state.

We go every year to Oceanside, California, and this year we took the Coaster ride from Oceanside to Santa Fe Station in San Diego. This is a relaxing ride, especially sitting upstairs and watching the scenic Pacific Ocean.

At Oceanside along with the Coaster is a train that goes only to Escondido and back to Oceanside. Metro Link is there that goes to Los Angeles and links with cities in the north. There is also Amtrak that goes south and north along the coast. Next year we will have to explore some other area via a train!

Polly the Pumpkin

Carolyn Dussault

Polly lived in a beautiful pumpkin path. Her family and five siblings were among the most prominent in Mr. Gourd’s farm. Her mother retained her fabulous shape year after year, while her father became quite rotund. All her siblings resembled her parents, that is all except Polly. You might say she was the runt of the litter. Her coloring was vivid though much darker than the rest for a pumpkin. She was small almost stunted in appearance. Mother felt she resembled Aunt Alicia Acorn that naturally came from her father’s side of the family.

The family’s main objective centered on winning first place in this most prestigious tournament which had become a major attraction across the country. It attracted thousands and sent them to the best supermarkets in the valley. Gourd’s farm was superlative to any other in the area. Just ask them!

Her siblings preened in the late autumn sun and avoided the large leaves covering them. They wanted at least one of them to win. That is all except Polly. She was the disgrace to their pride. They attempted to keep her hidden under the large leaves in their patch. After all, no self-respecting pumpkin that ugly could be chosen. Her coloring was abysmal. She wasn’t even a respectable orange. She had a dark green skin and her misshapen form caused gossip in the other nearby patches as to her paternity.

Suddenly some freak autumn frosts were followed by some unseasonably warm weather certainly raised havoc to every one of the pumpkins. It appeared as though blight suddenly overwhelmed the Gourd farm. Perhaps Mother Nature decided to level their prideful behavior.

Betty and Burt Butternut’s demise was very depressing to the survivors. Samuel Squash and Zachary Zucchini just withered away with the news. Would there be anyone left to save Mr. Gourd’s farm? Who would be next?

Mr. Gourd surveyed this disaster with a heavy heart. He reveled on his astute business acumen coupled with a quality product. He never lost an opportunity to brag about his pumpkins. What was he to do? All appeared ruined along with his pride and boastful ways.

While tromping among the rows of ruined produce, he practically tripped over what appeared to be a huge acorn squash.

Well hidden from the elements, nestled under heavy pumpkin leaves slept the most beautifully shaped acorn squash. Her coloring was magnificent. Her form was perfect. He tenderly picked her up and brushed the mud from her. My beautiful savior he crooned. We will enter you in the tournament, but not as a pumpkin but as an acorn squash. Hum? He mused how did you end up in this patch? Had the rumors been true? What had your mamma been doing? Well, it doesn’t matter. You are my Thanksgiving gift. Her siblings just groaned. Revenge could be sweet!

Try Your Best

Jim Glueck

Be good in life, but not too good

Just live your life as you think you should

Behaving as you have been told

Not too selfish but also not too bold.

Be a little naughty, but not too naughty

You wouldn’t want to be too haughty

Say a prayer when you feel the need

Especially after an inappropriate deed.

Be kind to the world and to your neighbors

For in truth we are all sisters and brothers

But when for some reason we become unkind

Smash it, get over it and banish it from your mind.

Always smile in good times and bad

Especially when times are tough and you are really sad

Grab all the happiness in whatever form

Don’t let sadness and depression become your norm.

Don’t simply exist, just live. Above all things Live.

There are so many things to the world you can give

Compassion and understanding and consideration come to mind

Perhaps in these acts peace in your soul you will find.

Love, above all, learn to love

For it’s a wonderful gift from above

Look for love; embrace love; love with all your heart

Never let this feeling from your heart depart.

Live so that one day you can shake hands with yourself and say

You tried to accomplish something good every day

At the end you can look back on your life with pride

For there will be nothing for you to hide.

When the nighttime comes and you prepare for bed

Think about your day and the good things that you said

As you await a deserved peaceful night’s rest

You can honestly say to yourself that today I have tried my best.