Thinking about trains and daddy

Published 10:10 am Thursday, March 30, 2023

By Jan Penton-Miller


On this blustery day I sit in a local coffee shop listening to the rain and the people around me. Young and old filter in shaking their umbrellas as they enter. Soon most are chatting with their friends and acquaintances as they enjoy the brew of their choice. 

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A couple I had never met invited me to join them, causing me to remember why I love living in the south.

With my favorite chai latte and a croissant in hand I think that I’m doing at least a small bit of healthy because a little spinach is sprinkled in the mounds of buttery yumminess. I know that I’m only kidding myself, but I’ll walk later if we get a break in the rain. 

A friend saw me and came by. I stopped a minute to visit, and realized that’s probably why I like to work out in public from time to time. The camaraderie of the folks in a small town can’t be beat.       

The Norfolk Southern’s whistle blows, and I begin to think of train stories and train songs.

When my dad was a young Marine stationed in San Diego he hopped a train as many of the military men did in that era. He was on his way home on leave to see his Mama and siblings when He got word that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. 

He and all the other military men stopped in their tracks and began to make their way back to their prospective bases not knowing what they would find when they got there.

That was the beginning of a long and arduous time of uncertainty and sacrifice not only for our military, but also for their loved ones at home. My dad served with distinction along with so many others. 

According to, of the approximately 70 million people who fought in World War II between 1939 and 1945 now only about 167,000 veterans are still living in the United States.

Funny how a train’s whistle brings back memories of my dad. I treasure the little book of stories and memories that I wrote years ago while my daddy was spending his last days in a nursing home. 

I asked him questions and wrote exactly what he answered. It was a way of getting him to communicate when otherwise he would not have had much to say.

Now I am able to look back at the questions and how he answered them to get a glimpse into his life. I know his favorite hobbies as a child, and what he enjoyed as he grew older. He played baseball at Jr. College, and his nickname was Three-Bagger Ball. I might not know these things if not for the times I sat with him and listened as he reminisced.    

With the coming of Easter I realize anew that one day I’ll once again get to sit with my Daddy. This time he will be healthy and strong. What a day!  

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