Monday, April 23, 2012

A Sentimental Journey

Two weeks ago we took the train from South Station in Boston to Penn Station in New York City for the Easter weekend.  It was the first long train ride for me, other than commuter rides, in decades. I had taken trains from the Back Bay Station and from the Route 128 station before, but never from South Station. There have been a lot of renovations in the South Station area but the main terminal looks like it did decades ago. I couldn't help but think about my father and his brothers and sisters standing there back in the early 1940's as they said goodbye to each other, hugged and kissed, and went off to the war.

When we got to Providence I thought back to the spring of 1964 when we took the bus from Harwich High on the Cape to Providence and then took the train to Washington DC for our senior class trip. That was a great time and several of my classmates have passed away already. And when we were kids, my mother, 2 sisters and I, would take the train from Hyannis to Providence, and then down to New London, Ct. We would then take the ferry out to Fishers Island, where are grandparents lived and where my mother was born. We would spend two weeks there most summers. Just a wonderful time. When the train pulled into New London, I saw the ferry there and off in the distance, looking down the harbor, I could see the tip of Fishers Island.

My mother graduated from high school in Fishers Island back in 1937 and she went to college in Catawba in North Carolina. My grandfather had family in that area. My mother used to take the ferry from Fishers Island to New London, and then take the  train all the way to North Carolina. She only came home for Christmas and the summer. When we pulled into New London I looked out at the platform. I couldn't help but think that Mom stood on that same spot, holding onto probably one suitcase. What was she thinking? She must have been excited about seeing her friends in school again and her relatives in North Carolina, but she wouldn't see her family for several months. And as the train leaves New London, heading south, you can look off to your left and see parts of the Island. Did Mom look at that same spot and think about not seeing it again for months?

And how about when Mom was coming home from college? She must have been getting excited when the train got to New Haven. Not long to go and just before New London you can see Fishers Island off to your right. Almost home! And then Mom took the ferry, and the ferry had to pass my grandparent's house which was close to the water, on the way to the harbor. My grandparents would be standing outside, waiting for the ferry, and then they would wave to each other, and my grandparents would then jump in the car, and drive down to the harbor, only a half mile away. What a welcome that must have been.

And when Mom was going back to college, the whole process was reversed. My grandparents would drive Mom to the ferry, the ferry would leave and go around the point, and my grandparents would be standing in front of the house, waving goodbye to Mom. That must have been an emotional moment. And then Mom gets to New London and is standing on the platform waiting for the train,for the long ride.

I haven't been to Fishers Island in several years. I think I will go back this year, stand on that train platform in New London, take the ferry and drive around the Island and look at those spots where the ferry came in and where my grandparents stood and where the ferry went by with my mother on it.

Its amazing what you can think of on one train ride!