Saturday, June 22, 2013

I Hear the Train a’ Coming

                I just came home from a funeral. It was my wife’s aunt Elma Jean. She was ninety-four years old, and at all sorts of things and memories were stirred. The one that were most prominent was the death of my wife ten years ago, my mother-in-law the following year, and the death of my mother on the third anniversary of my wife’s passing. So many familiar faces gathered for the same reason was bound to trigger memories.
Another was Elma Jean’s name. She was the child who had been born right before my father-in-law, Bud. Bud did not like his name. He felt his mother hadn’t gotten enough of whatever was going on when she picked names, because he was named Elmer Eugene. He had been given the nickname of Bud as a kid and kept it.

Although Elma Jean and her family had moved from Pennsylvania to live in Lorain, Ohio many years ago, she wanted to be buried in the plot next to her husband and that was in the Sands Cemetery in the hills above Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. The family had her embalmed body shipped back to Confluence, Pennsylvania to a funeral home there where she would be viewed for three hours before the service at the funeral home and one at the graveside.
The family hadn’t talked to the funeral director, but left information that a Dale, a local nephew and cousin should be the contact person in Pennsylvania. Dale got a call from the owner of the funeral home who said, “Dale, we have your aunt here. What do you want us to do with her?”
My cousin hadn’t gotten a phone call either and he was in the dark as well, but after a few telephone calls, everything was worked out. I really cannot imagine how shocked he must have felt getting that call.

One of the stories that was told, as families are prone to do when they gather, was that Alma Jean, Doris Mae, and Freeda Iantha were sisters that often sang together at local churches. They had good voices and sang well together, but the biggest drawing card they had was that they were all single, young and attractive. When it was announced that they would be singing at the church in Ohiopyle, the church would be packed with teen-aged boys.
It just so happened that two of the sisters had their hearts stolen away and married brothers, Doris married Warren Dale Leonard (nicknamed Cappie) and Freeda married Warren Delbert Leonard (nicknamed Beanie). They had homes about three miles from each other, Cappie and Doris had a dairy farm and Beanie built up a business selling and repairing lawn mowers, chain saws, and other small engine tools.

I had no idea of the amount train and freight traffic that went through the small burgs of Confluence and Ohiopyle. In the three hours we were at the funeral four trains rolled through hauling multiple cars of freight. The trains made me think of stories of my youth. One I have told already and one I shall tell at a later time.

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