“Daddy, Daddy…Look what Pawpaw gave me!”
Jeremy ran across the porch as fast as his chubby little legs would carry him, and then leaped into my outstretched arms. Dad smiled indulgently and with a smidgen of pride on his weathered old face. He loved Jeremy with all of his being ~ it showed.
Kneeling down, I placed Jeremy on the porch… “Let’s see what Pawpaw gave you…” Jeremy held out a battered old picture that I recognized immediately. In my childhood, I also coveted the picture of the old train. Again, as always in my life, I wondered about the picture. Looking up, my eyes met Dad’s eyes over the top of Jeremy’s head. Dad had that twinkle in his eye just like my own Pawpaw had when I was a small boy. The picture of the train always does that to the men folk in my family.
As I straightened up, I said “Dad? Did you tell Jeremy the story about the train?” As I watched him, I swear I saw his eyes twinkle just a bit more as his grin spread across his face.
“I sure did! And I even showed Jeremy the paper that says the train belonged to my own Grandpaw.”
I remembered the picture, but I surely did not remember seeing any papers about the train…but then…I was a child of 7 or 8 the last time I saw that picture. I doubted that I would remember any papers that did not have a picture on it from that age. Suddenly, for the first time since childhood, I was curious.
“Dad? Will you tell me again about that train?”
Dad got that faraway look in his eyes as he wandered back through time in his mind. “I was just a lad of 10 when the train came through the bottom land and hit ole Bessie. My Grandpaw and Grandmaw didn’t have a thing in the world except for Bessie, a couple of chickens and that thar shack over yonder.” Dad let his eyes drift over to the old, rundown, one-room house that leaned so far that it looked like a small breeze could blow it over. “Grandpaw lived in that shack even after Dad built this house. He refused to move into the new house because he said Grandmaw still lived in the shack.” Dad allowed a little sadness to creep into his face as he recalled his own grandfather. Barely perceivable, Dad shook his head at the memories before continuing. “You see, Grandmaw was so upset about ole Bessie that she up and died.”
“As I was sayin’…the train came through and killed Bessie – Grandpaw’s old cow. Then Grandmaw died. Grandpaw got so mad that he up and went to a lawyer to make them train people pay for what they cost him. Then one day, this man came down the lane in a shiny black car. His hair was shiny black too. It looked like he put axel grease on his head! Anyway…he was a slicked up lawyer from Chicago. He gave Grandpaw this piece of paper that said they was givin’ him the train that hit Bessie, ‘cause it was the train that did it, so they didn’t want her anymore.” Dad paused and shook his head again before saying the rest… “When Grandpaw told them he didn’t want their ole train, that slick lawyer told him that it was his to do what he wanted with and he could pick it up in the train graveyard in Chicago whenever he wanted. And then the lawyer left. Grandpaw stomped and cussed a lot, then just stopped all the sudden like, sat down and stared at the dirt. Grandpaw never talked about that train again…EVER.”
That bit of information was news to me. “Dad….lemme see that paper…” My brain processed what Dad just told me. I am the first lawyer in the family and that education and experience set off bells and whistles in my head! I was so excited that I could hardly wait for Dad to return with that old piece of paper. Practically snatching it from Dad’s hand, I quickly scanned the document, recognizing from the language that I held a legally binding settlement agreement.
“Dad!!! Do you know what this means? This means that the train in that old picture belongs to you and unless I miss my guess, it is still parked right where they parked it all those years ago. They had no legal right to the train after signing this document· Slick lawyer or not…they know better than to break a settlement agreement!”
Dad scratched his head before saying “What am I going to do with an old rusty train? How would I get it and where would I put it?”
“Dad!!! That train is an antique! You don’t have to worry about moving it or where to put it. All we have to do is sell it!”
Smiling to myself, I recalled that day when we learned that Dad really did own that train that we had always called “Grandpaw’s train”. I helped Dad with the sale and the property transfer. He got a pretty penny for that rusted old train! Dad now lives in a brand-new house build just up the hill from the old homestead. He set up a college fund for Jeremy because, as Dad says, Jeremy is going to grow up to be a lawyer too. He invested the rest of the money, living quite comfortably off his dividends. Well…except for the money he invested in the Trantrac train company. It seems that trains are just not money making proposition these days…unless you happen to have an old antique train for sale…that sat silent and forgotten for 50 plus years…
Written by Darlene Cirinna
Copyright March 5, 2010
All rights reserved. Do not
use without permission.
Original photo from photobucket.
This copy of photo has been edited.