Monday, April 2, 2012


Everyone west of 2nd Street and South of South Street in our village lives close to the train.  As much as it tries to sneak out of town at 530ish on work mornings, it just can't. Trains come with whistles and aside from the chug-a-chug we associate with them (they don't do that anymore - alas!) aside from the groaning of the rails and the dinging of the crossing signals, that whistle is the big aural clue.

We looked on the place you can find anything (photo courtesy of eBay) and there are actual old brass whistles for sale.  We might buy it just so it doesn't find its way back to a real life train and toot at 530.

Greenport was the terminus of the main line some 150 years ago; a line that went to Brooklyn as a tunnel under the East River was pretty much out of the bounds of consideration.  A lot more trains "snuck in and out" back then than they do now - nearly a dozen a day - and we even had a way to put freight cars on ferries and ship them to Stonington, Ct. to latch on the rail lines there (we originally thought this ferry went to New London but a very sharp reader from up north told us, correctly, that Stonington was the destination to the line to Boston....many thanks).

These whistles, by the way, have a code. We won't list them here but this is a link that will tell you all you want to ever know.  The one we hear is Two long and two short (or two long, one short, one long) - and if you have read that little article at the end of the link, you'll know that it means the train is going to cross a "crossing point" and watch out; so the 4th Street crossing is the culprit.

More than a few of us wake up to this sound and there was a time more than a few were on it every morning.  We didn't like catching it but we would miss it if it went away.  We suppose that trains and tracks were just a part of our lives growing up as most small towns and rural communities had them in some fashion - leftovers perhaps from before endless trucks clog our roads and they were either terminus points or crossing points (meeting points or waiting points in railroad talk) and we built towns and societies around them. What journeys we missed.  What greetings and waves goodbye.

No comments:

Post a Comment