“Not near a train track” headed my husband’s list for the real estate agent when we moved to Hattiesburg. I do not share his antipathy. My childhood home atop a hill that had one half sliced off and flattened for the railroad track makes the long whistle, the rattle of the boxcars, and the ka-chugging of the wheels sound like home. During those days, with a teenaged aunt and foster sister who listened to the radio, I loved the words to “Sentimental Journey” associated with the Les Brown Orchestra and many top singers of the day.
The real estate agent did as asked, and I only hear the train whistle far in the distance if the wind is right to carry the sound to where I garden. I’ve been glad that Amtrak runs from Hattiesburg to Birmingham where one of my sisters lives [the one that Mama correctly warned that I would really want to see someday]. Going by train costs about the same as driving; provides more legroom than either a plane or car; and gives time for reading, writing, or watching the spring or fall foliage and wildflowers out the window.
The lyrics to the old song come back when I get ready to make the trip.
I got my bag, I got my reservation
• This is a little different than the old days. I do it online and print out the ticket.
Gonna make a sentimental journey
To renew old memories
• Every trip finds us reliving old memories – mostly good ones.
Spent each dime I could afford
• Actually it was $67.15, but who’s going to quarrel with the song?
Like a child in wild anticipation
I long to hear that: "all aboard!"
• Part of me failed to become a grownup.
Seven, that's the time we leave - at seven
I'll be waiting up for heaven
Counting every mile of railroad track - that moves me back
• It was more like nine, but close enough.
I never thought my heart could be so yearny
Why did I decide to roam
Gotta take a sentimental journey
Sentimental journey home
• Birmingham isn’t home, but any city or countryside dwelling with a sister is close enough!