I remember the day my father took me by the hand and lead me down the platform to the big, black, smoking, hissing, steaming engine.
A monster from my most horrid dreams.
I was terrified and the only thing, to the great disappointment of my father, I could do was scream and pull away.
I think he never forgave me about this.
Lots of time has gone since. Fond are my memories on those old journeys in steam driven trains. While I was afraid of the engine, I loved the coal smell, the smoke, the noise. A deep belly thump, thump, increasing to a crescendo at high speed.
The timber carriages. Rattling doors and windows. Leaking steam heating. Overheated often. Icy air through gaps in winters which could be called as such. Minus 27 degrees. Celcius. Ice on the windows and the ultoilet seat.
The worn leather seats or the hard timber benches. Leather straps dangling from the ceiling to hang on in overfilled carriages. The schrill sound of the conductors whistle.
The true dining cars. Plush, worn, seats. Warm lights at each table. Times between stations long enough for a five course meal, if they had them.
In summer through the open window the scent of nature mixed with engine smoke and mum complaining about the coal stains on the white sunday shirt.
I remember that our local train had separate doors for each compartment and if you were unlucky, a heavy smoker would join. Unlucky, since the was no way to move away. Each compartment was a separate cabin with no joining doors.
As I got older fascination over the big, black and red engines replaced the fear. I ventured closer. Watched the oiling of the wheel bearings at major stops. The filling of the water tanks. The men with the coal streaked faces. The change of engines at long distance stops.
Noticing the different skills of the drivers. The one which let the wheels slip and the ones who drove like silk, being masters over the engine.
Nostalgic thoughts. Train journeys were adventures those times. Nowadays only to enjoyed in museums trains. But a great reminder of our progress to high speed rail and airconditioned, non-smoking carriages.