Monday, May 14, 2007

Things That Are Everywhere In Places I Live.

Elmhurst Trains

This is a picture taken in my backyard last fall looking south. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it, but I live really frickin' close to busy train tracks.

We have a Metra stop in town, the eastern stop is in Chicago at Ogilvie Transportation Center and stops as far west as Elburn, Illinois. These tracks are also used by the Union Pacific/West Line.

There is a great line in The Blues Bothers, when Jake and Elwood arrive at Elwoods apartment ion the city. It is a single room, it's only window positioned about five feet from a passing 'L.' Jake questions how often the train goes by. Elwood responds, "So often you won't even notice."

That's pretty much how I live.

The mind shattering noise aside, I've always kinda liked living this close to the train. At an early age, before I could drive, I could travel to the city cheaply. Hit a museum, have lunch, or just wander around. What I did more often than not.

I think it's contributed to my travellin' bone and general curiosity about America. Watching so much move past me always left me curious as to where it was all going. And I do mean, America. I've always been much more interested in exploring this county than any other. Something about walking those tracks, fantasising about jumping in a boxcar and letting the flowing river of cargo take me wherever it might. Woody Guthrie and Jack Keruoac's America.

Speaking of filthy, homeless, boxcar riding bums. Three dudes, sporting some mighty dreads and carrying an inch of dirt over the entirety of their bodies, hopped off a car last Saturday in front of our house. They had a cute doggy, wearing his own backpack and bedroll, who frolicked in our yard with my brother's dog. They were walking east along First and when they saw my brother, stopped to get directions to the city. They were headed in the right direction, but thirteen miles is a long walk. they looked like they could do it, but they were just looking for the Metra stop. We pointed them back west, said it was a few blocks and they couldn't miss it.

7 comments:

Grant Miller said...

I'm sorry that train ran into your house like that.

Doc said...

There is something hopefull about living near a train. I guess it comes from growing up listening to all those old country songs. Just knowing that if everything in your life suddenly "goes south" (e.g. wife leaves, dog dies, lose job, bank forecloses, etc.), you still have the option to just jump in a boxcar and take off for parts unknown and start again.

Doc

Phil said...

Grant - I appreciate your sympathy. Thank you.

Doc - Oh, I've thought about it.

Stacy said...

The 3 dudes hopped out of a boxcar by your house??? I didn't even know people still could ride the boxcars! I love that!

Doc said...

It is easy to spot boxcar riders these days. They are the ones with the little hanky bundle tied to the end of a stick. If you would like to learn more, I would recommend Roger Miller's big hit "King of the Road".

Doc

Phil said...

Stacy - Thanks for coming by. Yeah, it's crazy.

Doc - It's a great song, but, not being completely familiar with the lyrics, is it more about driving than boxcar riding? Trains aren't on roads.

Flannery Alden said...

Trailers for sale or rent
Rooms to let...fifty cents.
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain't got no cigarettes
Ah, but..two hours of pushin' broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I'm a man of means by no means
King of the road.

Third boxcar, midnight train
Destination...Bangor, Maine.
Old worn out clothes and shoes,
I don't pay no union dues,
I smoke old stogies I have found
Short, but not too big around
I'm a man of means by no means
King of the road.

I know every engineer on every train
All of their children, and all of their names
And every handout in every town
And every lock that ain't locked
When no one's around.

I sing,
Trailers for sale or rent
Rooms to let, fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain't got no cigarettes
Ah, but, two hours of pushin' broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I'm a man of means by no means
King of the road.

Yep, it's a hobo/train song. Now, don't you have some interview questions to get crackalackin' on?