Last Friday, Mrs. Dorothy Randals and I joined the group near the old bus station to ride a bus to Dalhart. At the end of that ride, we were privileged to board the Union Pacific passenger train pulled by a 1940's steam engine. We were among people of all ages and were able to hear a few memories from former railroad employees as well as former passengers. We were also able to observe some young people who were riding a train for the first time.
We began the trip to Tucumcari in the observation car and were able to do a lot of looking into the distance. Members of the crew spoke to us, and those dressed in the uniforms of the past certainly brought back memories of many of our friends. When the conductor pulled out his pocket watch to check the time, we had numerous flashbacks as we recalled so many scenes from the past.
We later moved to a chair car and were very comfortable. I felt that we had more room between the seats in that car than we had in the cars in which I first rode. I was recalling some of our trips to El Paso during the war and remembered seeing people standing in the aisles because of the crowded troop trains. Mother and I took several such trips during my childhood because her family lived in the El Paso area. We often were a bit crowded because I had to sit in her lap most of the way.
As we rode along Friday, so many memories passed in review. Some were a little too emotional for comfort, but most were very pleasant. I had the notion that others were having similar experiences as we steamed along. The ride seemed a little smoother than those earlier rides because the ribbon tracks make traveling both smoother and quieter.
Dorothy and I visited about our feelings or sat quietly and pondered our memories. We had many laughs as always when we are together and talked about how fortunate we were to have learned about the trip and to have obtained tickets, thanks to Elizabeth Morris who kept us apprised of the coming events. As we got off the train some distance from the depot, we laughed about the rough walking as opposed to the smooth trip we had. I'm sure she was also remembering getting off in front of the depot in other times and was seeing those who had come to meet her. I surely was looking carefully at the crowd gathered for the occasion and was much pleased to see a few relatives among them.
We have collected another set of memories and had the opportunity to enjoy the gracious way of travel we once had. This was a good way to start celebrating the New Mexico Centennial. We could say we were among the last of the pioneers to enter our state via train!
Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.