Trains at Night
My brother Ken and I shared an upstairs bedroom; it was half of the second floor of my parent’s house. The other half of the upstairs was my sister Kathy’s bedroom. The ceiling sloped down to the walls on both sides. The walls were about five foot high at the edges while the center was seven foot high. The walls were painted white, the ceiling and trim was dark blue and my brother painted a huge red star on each door of the closet.
Our single beds were against the wall with the closet, one bed to each side of the closet. At each end of our bedroom, where the ceiling was highest, were our dressers; one at each end of the room. The carpeting was red tufted. Our sister’s room was painted peach with orange shag carpet.
It had been an attic, but as our family grew, Dad converted it into our bedrooms. The bedrooms were warm in the winter and hot in the summer, even with the windows at each end of the upstairs. All summer long the windows were wide open, even if it rained.
When I moved upstairs, I was surprised at the sounds I could now hear that sounds of the heavy vehicle traffic on route 711/381 was limited and now that I was above the muffling effect of the trees that filled the small valley where our home was located. I could hear the birds, the stream that flowed behind our home, and the occasional owl hooting in the woods behind.
There were times as I lay on the bed late at night, I could hear trains whistle as they rolled along nearly five miles away. In the darkness its wailing sounded so lonely. Yet it had a strangely comforting aspect to its tones as it spilled out of the darkness.
My brother Ken had red hair that was kinky, curly. When someone asked what he looked like, I would say, “He’s as tall as I am, thinner, with hair that looks like rusty steel wool,” and it did. Ken hated it. Most times he would put a toboggan cap of after he washed his hair and slept with it on his head. When he awakened in the morning, his hair was straight and stayed that way until he started to sweat, then his hair would start to curl.
My brother Ken and my sister Kathy were younger than me and would do things that I couldn’t or shouldn’t do. Often they would take the long seat cushions from Mom’s couch and would use them as toboggans to slide down the stairs from the bedrooms down the stairs into the living room. That would last until someone crashed into the door hard enough for Mom to hear them or until one of them got hurt and that would end the luge for that day.