Saturday, February 26, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Week 9 - Sounds

This week's challenge: Describe any sounds that take you back to your childhood. These could be familiar songs, jingles, children playing, or something entirely different.

My initial thought about this week's challenge in 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History would have been to write about my lifelong love affair with the music of The Beatles. However, I opted for something that is a bit more closely related to the heritage of my family - the sound of the whistle of the railroad train.

Harry Bellinger and his locomotive
my great uncle
For the majority of my life, I've known the comforting sound of the whistle of the railroad train, noticed mostly at night, and in the distance. The sound of the whistle was never loud enough to wake me from my sleep, but as I lay awake during the night, I could hear the faint sound of the trains.

Growing up in Greenwood, Nebraska, our home was adjacent to the railroad tracks. There was a deep ditch that separated my life from that of the trains that clacked their way along the tracks.

The sound of the whistle always began in the distance, warning people on foot and in cars that it was approaching the crossing. There were no crossing arms, just the familiar white X indicating the crossing. As the train neared the crossing, the sound became louder, then as it traveled down the tracks, the sound again faded in the distance.

There was a different sound of the whistle, depending upon whether it was the Zephyr passenger train or one of the trains carrying coal. It became easy to distinguish the difference between the two.

Even after my family moved to Lincoln, we were in proximity to railroad tracks. The sounds became as natural to me as the chirping of the birds or the tinkling of a wind chime. The sound was just always there, in the background.

Many members of my family were contractors who built the first railroad lines through Nebraska and neighboring states. Mom's uncle, Harry Bellinger, was an engineer. So maybe my affinity for the sound of the train has something to do with my ancestry.

About 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Amy Coffin of We Tree Genealogy has created a third year of blogging prompts for genealogy bloggers.

1 comment:

  1. I always loved the sounds of the trains too, except when I'd be on my way to work and had to anxiously wait for one to pass while praying I wasn't late to work! Where we live now is just about 1/2 mile or less from the tracks and I love hearing the train rumble and whistle at night. Sadly, it's not as often these days, maybe only 2 or 3 times a week.