Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow

A couple of nights ago I gave my sister a call on the phone.  She lives in a rural Nebraska town very similar to the one where we grew up, and in the middle of our conversation, I heard a ghostly sound through the receiver that raised the hair on the back of my neck.  It was the long, lonesome call of a freight train's horn echoing through the primeval dark of a prairie night.

It's a sound that always brings me back to my childhood growing up in a railroad town, and nights lying awake in bed, hearing the trains' eerie moans.  Those Nebraska nights were so dark and still that the freight train horns had a kind of piercing, almost threatening quality to them.  It was strange as a child to think that in the middle of such otherworldly blackness people were driving massive locomotives on and on through the night.  Nevertheless, I always find a strange comfort in their noise when I visit home, or when I am lucky enough to hear it through the telephone.

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