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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Silenced with a Glance

Reminds me of summers with my grandparents.

When I was a child, I would visit my grandparents for a week in the summer, all by myself. This does not sound like much on the surface, but coming from a large pack of children, it was indeed a unique opportunity. Finally, two adults, to oneself. This almost never happened in my childhood home. Except, perhaps for my oldest brother. I wonder if he remembers?

Anyway, it was about this time of the year, we would all start to "draw straws" if you will, to see what week each of us would go. We would look forward to our time and I for one, packed and un-packed my suit case for many weeks, long before i was to leave.

This is exactly what the record player looked like

When I was really young, I would just close up the portable record player, sometimes even remembering to tuck in the cord  before "buckling up" the lid. (Sorry about that guys, probably was why it shorted out, looking back in hindsight) I would drag around the record player, all the while pretending, I was leaving soon. Riding the train to grandma's in my mind, it must have driven my mother crazy.

This is what the train looked like
My mother would put me on the train, all by myself, with a real suitcase,  age nine or ten, to my grandparents'  home in Wisconsin. Not that far over the state line, but still, far enough to finish a short book.  She would engage the conductor in conversation and say: "Watch out for her, will you?"  The conductor would nod, touch his cap and give me a look, which even I knew meant: No funny business.

I would ride that train, reading what ever book I was engrossed  in at the time, hardly noticing  trees, houses or other stops as we made our way north.*

In those days, the train was quiet. No cell phones, no one talking, or making any noise, it was as if there was some sort of code. Everyone it knew and complied. I felt safe and comfortable with completed confidence that the conductor would make sure I got off at the right stop and my suitcase would be taken down off the rack and all would be well.

(I must add here, that having four children of my own, I would never have dreamed of sending them alone, but it was a different time and seemed  not atypical for the day.)
Maybe it was this man when he was younger
 that looked out for me that day.

Then it happened. The train made one of it's usual stops, and into my car (as I thought of it) some young boys entered and sat near me. Now, boys in general, did not alarm me as I have five brothers of my own. I  knew, keep your head down, and they will leave you alone.

Not this time.

I must have looked like an easy target or they were just bored, either way, I could feel that all was not well. Their stage whispering and pointed  remarks, while looking my way, were the warm up, when they started to move in for the kill (my usual technique of silence, as a comment,not working), the conductor slid open the doors of the train car.

And then, something that I am not sure happens anymore, occurred:  he silenced those boys...with a glance.

* The rest of the trip was completed without incident. My darling grandparents, were waiting to receive  me,  the conductor handed me, and the suitcase, over to them.

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