Sepia Saturday – A memory of trains

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

I haven’t had much time to think about Sepia Saturday the past two weeks, and I was sure I wouldn’t participate this time around. But I have a couple of photos and a little time today, so here goes.

My grandparents, Tom and Eveline Hoskins, lived on Brick Row in Ottumwa, Iowa for many years. A row of houses lined one side of the gravel street near the city limits on the east side of town. On the opposite side of the street was a railroad track. The tracks lay on the rise of land behind my grandmother and me in this photo.

A ditch ran between the front yard and the street. Two railroad ties provided bridges, allowing a direct route to the house if you parked on the street.

One could sit on the railroad ties for a photograph,

or one might practice her balance on and off the “balance” beam.

My mother and I lived with my grandparents from the time I was about two years old until I was nearly eight. I don’t remember being bothered by the loudness of the trains passing by day and night. It just becomes the background noise of one’s daily life. If I was playing outside when a train came by, I would try to get the engineer to blow his horn and get a wave and a caboose whistle from the conductor in the caboose. I often succeeded through my enthusiastic waving – especially from the man in the caboose. If I was fast enough to begin as the train approached, I’d count the cars as they passed by, hoping to reach 100. The last couple of years I lived in this house, I occupied the little gabled room upstairs in the front and I could look out the window and watch the trains pass by.

To catch the bus to school, I would walk down Brick Row to this railroad overpass. On the right side, there was a narrow sidewalk with a short barrier, maybe 4 inches high, to act as a curb and offer protection for pedestrians. It is gone now – not many pedestrians walking to meet the school or city bus these days. The overpass is still in use.

There are more railroad stories in my family history, but that’s my trip down memory lane today.

Please hop on board and visit other Sepia Saturday participants.