Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Train Trip with My Mother

This post first appeared on my other blog, The Zees Go West, in 2009.

I was born in Maine. When I was just three months old, my adventurous parents put my bassinet between them on the front seat of the car and headed west to a promised postwar job in the shipyard at San Francisco. Three and a half years later, in 1948, my mother took me on a train trip back to Maine to visit the relatives. Many years later, when I had a three-year old of my own, I took him on a train trip from Washington state to northern California, a total of 18 hours. We had lots of fun, but I can only admire my own mother's fortitude in taking me on a multi-day train trip across the entire country.

All I can remember about my train trip with my mother was the new brown and pink plaid dress she had sewn for me to wear. It had a little "built-in" pink apron, and my mom and I decided that the apron would be perfect for gathering eggs when we got to Uncle Murray's farm.

Reality was quite different from my imaginings. Yes, I wore that little dress out to the hen house but, as a shy and urban child, I could not make my peace with those fierce hens. I do remember feeling extremely offended when Uncle Murray offered me some fresh milk out in the barn. I agreed that a serving of milk would be a good thing, but was shocked when he delivered it by aiming at me with the cow's teat. It was a little too fresh for my citified taste!
Luckily for me, my mother saved the children's menus from the train trip. A little research on the Internet has helped me to piece together a few facts. Two of my menus are marked with the date and I found the same menus on eBay, so now I know that we traveled part of the way on the Union Pacific Railroad. From what I can tell by looking at old railroad route maps, I am assuming that we went to Omaha, and then to Chicago, and then on to New England.

Here are the breakfast, luncheon, and dinner menus for the well-traveled child in the postwar United States. They are an interesting glimpse into our past.


  1. I'm posting this comment from my half-sister, Joan, which I received by email:

    Also remember that with you on that cross-country trip was a little doggie as well--you all came to my house in the litle grey coupe (a coupe mind you !!!) all packed and ready for the journey. Needless to say you don't remember that visit !!!! Seeing you drive away --many thoughts came to my mind--how are they going to do this-- but adventurers they were !!! I think they did the right thing ,just that Icouldn't squeeze in that car !!!!


  2. I remember traveling by train from Washington, DC to the mid-west at about the same time. I remember my mother grumbling about how expensive the food in the dining car was. I'm glad you included copies of the children's menus so I can see what was expensive at the time, though maybe it was the adult menu prices that she found overpriced.


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