20 October 2010


My first recollection of a train ride goes back to 1941. My father was in a hospital in Rochester, New York, which is where my grandmother (my mother’s mother) lived. I don’t remember how we got to Rochester, but I do remember taking the train back to Batavia, New York, where we lived. It’s only a 30 minute drive by car, so probably took less than that by train. When we arrived at Batavia, my mother had my brother and me wait outside a nearby diner while she went in to arrange a taxi ride home.

Several years later, we had moved to Rochester. It was during World War II and we didn’t own a car. My father wanted to visit his brother, Gene, in Corning, New York, so we boarded a Lehigh Valley train for the trip. The station was on Court Street, adjacent to the Genesee River; the building is now a restaurant. The first part of the trip took us along the Genesee River, then turned to the southeast through Rochester Junction. It was a beautiful ride through the hills and valleys. On one side was a slope down to a creek through some trees; opposite was looking at the side of the hill until we switched seats and could look up through the forest. I don‘t remember seeing any wildlife. I do remember the train didn‘t go very fast, which is great for sight-seeing. (I’ve tried to follow the route on Google Earth, but much of the track bed has disappeared.) Uncle Gene’s house was on Bridge Street, near the train station. We stayed overnight, and I remember the breakfast that Aunt Nellie fixed - pancakes with real maple syrup and home-made pork sausage. The smell and taste are right there with the visual recollection.

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