I was driving through San Bernardino, California a couple of weeks ago and saw the old train station. I have history and memories there and couldn't resist stopping by for a visit. I was so happy to see that it's being preserved and is even more beautiful than I remembered. My memories there aren't just from a few travels in my past. You see, my dad worked for Santa Fe Railroad when I was a small child. That not only provided us free or discounted (I'm not sure which) travel when he worked for them but we also lived on a train for while. How cool is that?!
When I was about three years old, Santa Fe sent my dad to do some work in Needles, California. It's in the middle of the desert, on the border of California of Arizona. They provided a place for us to stay...a train car that had been outfitted like a little home and it was on the tracks. As crazy as it sounds, I actually have memories of it. I was recently talking with my dad about it and found out that he was stationed out there for about six months and it was during the hot part of year. So, my mom sometimes drove back with me to their little home in Colton, California where it was cooler.
I remember lots of train trips with my parents and brother to go see my grandparents in Missouri. Sometimes it was just my mom, brother, and I. I have some pictures in my mind from the train. My favorite memories from those trips are of a hat box my mom packed some fun little activities in to keep me busy. Later, when I was a bit older, I remember having a little suitcase that she'd packed things in. I wasn't allowed to open it until the trip. I was so excited though that my mom gave in and let me open it at the train station as we waited for the train. What she packed kept me busy for hours and hours....paper, little scissors, stickers, a coloring book and crayons, silly putty, and I think there was even a little doll. There may have been more things in there but that's all I remember. It's one of my best childhood memories. What a great idea it was too! I ended up doing something similar with my daughter on some long trips. I bought some fun little activities and craft supplies and pulled them out as needed. Some were even wrapped like little gifts. She loved it and so did I.
I was flooded with emotion as we walked up to the train station a couple of weeks ago. So many memories and thinking about being young and my parents being young and what different times those were.
In my memory, these benches inside ran the other direction. But, I think they're movable. So, it's quite possible they've been moved. Back then, this was a bustling place, filled with people waiting to travel or waiting for loved ones to arrive. There was even a restaurant at the station.
We went into the restroom and this big, bright, beautiful room was just inside the doors. The window even had old, bubbly glass in it. The actual restroom was small and through another door. I wonder if this room used to have benches in it?
Inside the main part of the train station, and tucked over in a corner, is an old shoe shine stand.
As we stepped outside, I could no longer hold back that flood of emotion and the tears began to flow. In fact, I'm having trouble holding it back now. I think it's a combination of sadness about my parents being old now instead of young and of the memories here being some of the good ones from my childhood. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me but the emotions are strong.
This is the back of the station that faces the railroad tracks.
I stood out there for a while and waited for a train to come along. I remember the rumble of them going by when I was small. It was thrilling and scary all at the same time.
This station is now used for commuting into Los Angeles and other Southern California areas. Travelers don't even need to go into the station anymore. Tickets are bought from a little electronic box out by the tracks. If someone wants to travel far distances, I think they have to go into Union Station in L.A. to catch a different train.