Furlough ! Going Home !
How sweet those words !
With excitement and anticipation, I boarded a Great Northern train in Spokane headed for Chicago. A
change at Chicago and then on my way again.
The Great Northern was a joy itself. Comfort, a lounge car styled after a chuck wagon, and there
were observations areas for passengers.
The observation dome allowed one to see the landscape in all directions. The mountains are something
to behold with forests, deep valleys and gorges, and where one might see a deer. Then came the plains
of eastern Montana. Where the mountains were close onto us, almost as if they could be touched, the
plains gave a wide open, seemingly never ending view. Cattle, and an occasional cowboy was seen on
horseback going about his business.
The trip was going well, and the sites very interesting, until we reached Fargo, South Dakota. There
we were held up for two hours. We had to wait until the tracks going south were cleared. A blizzard
had just passed through blocking tracks southward toward Chicago.
That layover, though enjoyed, was a problem for me. I would likely be late for my connection in
Chicago. I began fretting for I did not want a long layover, waiting for another train, in Chicago. The
closer I got to home the more I wanted to be on my way.
Worried, I became restless, pacing the car. Turning around at the end of one circuit I saw the
Conductor approaching. I went to meet him, hope rising.
Explaining my situation, he said, "Let me check on it." And that was all. Some hope came, but also
some let down. What could he do ? Give me a new arrival time ?
Anxiously I waited for what seemed a life time. The negatives kept coming to mind like flashing neon
signs. The trip was becoming a real problem. And forgotten was all the wonderful scenery, the
pleasantness of a great trip across Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota. .
After my nerves became frayed a bit, and my stomach churning in tune with my nerves, we entered
northern Illinois, the Conductor finally returned. I calmed down some as he headed for me. He had
He said, "We will be a little late." We would miss my connection. But then he went on, and explained
what I was to do when we pulled into the station. He gave directions for running across the station to
the platform for my connecting train, and then he said, "You train will be waiting. But don't keep it
waiting, for it won't wait long."
I could have hugged him. But I restrained myself and shook his hand thanking him.
The connecting train was waiting. Out of breath I boarded, and it began moving.
Thanks to a caring Conductor my trip continued.
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