Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Living Near the Train Tracks

Every once in awhile, you hear of people who live all of their lives in the same county. For almost all of my life, I have lived within “hearing” distance of the same set of train tracks. Seriously.

When my young parents returned “home” after my Dad’s stint in the army, he and his brothers built a home while my mother carried their second child. This is the only home I have lived in that was not near train tracks. I lived there nine years.

Upon moving into a larger home when the “oops” baby came along, we lived at an internal right angle of an isosceles triangle, while the train track was the hypotenuse of the triangle. Another way of putting it is that we were about three or four blocks from two different crossings. At this particular time, the tracks went both ways. Usually there were four trains an hour. I think all we heard were whistles, but you got used to it (just as we got used to the airplane noise as we lived next to an Air Force base). Come to think of it, we lived a very noisy existence. Sixteen-wheelers were redirected so that they came down the street that our street intersected. We were the second house from the corner. So our lives were a combination of gears grinding, planes flying overhead and four trains an hour whistling at two different crossings (that’s eight per hour, folks).

When I was married, we moved to an area that was further away from the trains, but we could still hear them in the evening and night, when things in the neighborhood were quiet. We didn’t hear the planes as much, but on a quiet night we heard taps at 10:00 PM. My daughter called them the "horns." An interstate highway had been built and we could hear the traffic on the highway. We lived there 16 years.

Then we moved out to the county, the next county over, and we were probably a good mile as the crow flew from the tracks. By now they had closed one track (because we had sixteen-wheelers on the highways!) but on a quiet evening, I could still hear the whistles. They were further away and it was a little bit pastoral. We thought we had left the airplanes behind, but alas, there was a National Guard base fairly close by, and they did maneuvers on the weekends.

After 14 years in that home, we built a home. And guess what? Again we were about ½ mile from the same tracks. That was enough to be off in the distance, and still be able to hear them. We were also in an Air Force practice zone. Sometimes they practiced until 11:00. I was about done with them by then!

This is a crossing close to our home. It's not
THE closest, but it's close enough.
So, last year we decided to build the condo and what do you know? We are as close to those SAME tracks as I was in my childhood home.

Fortunately, the trains aren’t as frequent and they are muted by closed windows, but as I write this with windows open, I can hear the whistles and the cars quite clearly. But I’m used to it. I could take a nap if I wanted. The airplanes don’t practice out here and the only sixteen-wheelers are the few that deliver product to the IGA and drug stores.

It seems odd that we have bought the starter home, the home we raised our kids in, built a smaller home, and then decided on condo living, all within earshot of the same set of tracks. We have lived in two counties, had two post offices, and many changes to our homes and lifestyle in general, but........

we still have those tracks!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What if....You Come to the Reunion ALONE?

What if?

You came to your high school reunion with the attitude that you might not see anyone that you know. Or perhaps, the friends that you were pals with, planned to come, and something happened that they couldn’t?

It’s been awhile. You are unsure about what you are going to see in your town (keep in mind that ALL towns change, even the one you’ve been living in for twenty years!).

You wonder if you will recognize anyone! We are going to try and help you with that, with pictures on nametags, but there will be some people that you just draw a mental blank with; as you do with many things in your life every day!

I’ll be honest. Your Reunion Committee doesn’t plan any games for icebreakers. We have found that it doesn’t really work. People arrive and leave at different times; it’s hard to implement. So, in that respect, you will have to be prepared for conversation. You know, I am not crazy about small talk in general, business meetings and such; but I think it’s different when we know that we spent some portion of our life with these people.

We hope to have a slide show behind the music, not necessarily synced up, so that if the spirit moves you, you can dance to whatever is playing. Hopefully the slide show will stir up some memories.

We also will have a Memorial area in a corner someplace. It is getting bigger each time, and you may want to spend some time there, or not. We realize that each person is different in how they approach death.

If you had to start the conversation, what would you say? Would you ask what a favorite high school memory is? How about a favorite (or not) teacher? What was your favorite song or musical group? Or would you share what is going on in your life now? Both are interesting.

Picture yourself walking into the room and the expanse of the area blends all together. I have felt this way. My best advice is to put on a smile, and see what happens. I think you’ll be surprised.

We try to make spouses and significant others feel welcome, but that is an individual decision. My own husband came to the 10th and said “that was it.” He was a teacher. We don’t typically invite teachers, because I am aware that teachers do not remember many of the students if they taught 35 years. My husband typically had 160 per year. That’s 5,600 people. Do you honestly expect him to remember you? (If you are a retired school teacher, you know).

That said, all are welcome. Siblings, best friends from another class, teachers. We are too old to care about it.

Don’t NOT come because your friend(s) can’t. You will find someone that you have something in common with; whether it be from back then or right now. I guarantee it.