Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Time to Remember ...

Port Townsend, today. I’ve been reminiscing about holidays past. And recalled when my former business partner and I - operating our video production company in Vancouver - held a big carrot out for the employees: Meet or exceed our program production schedule for the year, and we will reward you with workdays between Christmas and New Years off, with pay!

It was an “unpublished” policy that worked like a charm!

While this is billed as a “railroad” blog, from time to time I just have to share some goodies with you that I trip over whilst wandering the Internet!

This is one such goody! I am of the opinion that the “golden era” of travel, if there ever was such an era, had to have been the ‘40’s, ‘50’s, perhaps extending into the early ‘60’s. Buses and trains were offering some fantastic rides in those days, with dome cars and scenic cruisers. I am remembering traveling the old US 99 from the Bay Area to Seattle on some really great “hounds” (Greyhound) and the occasional Pacific Trailways.

People for the most part were upbeat and friendly, and on long trips, friendships even erupted. As a young Airman going home on leave, I’ll never forget the winter of 63-64, when the Klamath River overran US 99 and heavy snowfall buried the Siskiyou Summit!

"It's so relaxing to take the bus ... and leave the driving to us!

We got as far as Red Bluff just after midnight, when heavy snow closed the US 99 in both directions. There were about 20 Greyhounds and Trailways buses stranded in Red Bluff. The station ran out of food and the machines were devoid of candy bars. Someone up near the front of the bus had a pocket radio going, and one by one we learned that a “drive through” liquor store was opening up at nine a.m.

Well, one by one, folks said they were getting off the bus to smoke and stretch! Uh-huh! Now heavily fortified with Christmas Spirit, it was party time all ready, and once the driver took a head count just after noon and we departed Red Bluff, Siskiyou Summit be damned!

"All I needed was a few more minutes - and the keys - to get us rolling again!"

Of course there was a passenger with a guitar (no - not a nun,) and soon a sing along, well sort of, evolved. A young Navy dude fell head over heals in love with a young lady and decided to spend Christmas with her and got off with her in Grants Pass. The rest of us wondered how he’d put his life back together when he sobered up! We gave his folks the “good news” that he was alive and well … in Grants Pass … when we got to Portland!

Even airplane travel was fun in those days! Remember when you had a choice of beef, chicken, or fish? And refills of coffee or tea and an after dinner mint on longer flights? Even getting your “wings” on certain airlines?

And I will always remember the radio ads inviting you to ride the “Vista Dome North Coast Limited, with ‘Sue’ the Stewardess Nurse on board!”

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