Railroad songs never went away!

I don’t mind living next to a railroad because the engine’s whistle at night recalls all the old railroad song from my boyhood, such as “Casey Jones,” “Wreck of the the Old Number Nine,” and beloved singer Judy Garland in “The Acheson, Topeka and the Santa Fe.”
Guitar lessons were among the fads of my youth, so we set those songs to music and tops among all thes songs was probably, “The Wabash Cannonball.”
“Oh listen to the jingle, the rumble and the roar
Of the mighty rushing engine as she runs along the shore
From the hills of Minnesota where the laughing waters fall,
No change is to be taken on The Wabash Cannonball!”
I’ve still got a guitar, one that my grandson, Jordan, played before he graduated to a more expensive instrument he uses in his local guitar band nowadays for Vancouver engagements.
But the railroad songs are not in style anymore. They went out with a great volume of cowboys, Western, and mountain ballads we also knew.
And you know, I’ll bet they could be revived and popular again properly done, but my singing days are long past—even if my sister-in-law, Gail, in Winnipeg, may not agree. She tolerates some of that stuff during our phone calls and refuses to criticize my voice, which never was great!
“Twas a cold winter night, not a star was in sight as the northern wind came howling down the line. With his sweetheart so dear stood a brave engineer with his orders to pull Old Number Nine!”
• • •
Responding to the Times’ invitation in its weekly web poll, I am optimistic heading into 2006 because despite all our shortcomings, including a notable lack of ambition, Canada has done okay so far.
Maybe it merely doesn’t show, but we can go ahead and slumber on because that’s what we have been proved to be good at.
Let our big neighbour go ahead and lead the worlds and we won’t complain too much, because we’ve been more or less contented right along and it has not hurt much! The status quo philosophy we practise seems to keep us going quite well.
So what’s the sense of getting our shirts tied in knots going after the unachievable when we should know by now it eventually will get here anyway.
Certainly, we depend on American leadership too much, but it has not hurt us severely or internationally so far. Yes, we can argue the U.S. into better trade considerations, concerning lumber, cattle, and other items we produce, but we have to go along mostly for our own good.
Just remember, Canadians own so many basic commodities, including fuel and gold (plus all our land and water), that the world is forced to appreciate us. And on the non-monetary side of life, we always look good, too.
Canadians may be too quiet sometimes, but the whole world knows we can be strong if somewhat silent!
• • •
Well, lo and behold! Here comes “Nutty” back again claiming to represent the animal kingdom in this discussion. I will win his support again with some raisin toast.
• • •
While I definitely do not want to start up any scandals, my neighbours must be wondering about the endless parade of younger women visiting me.
Besides my daughter, on Wednesday there arrived my once weekly housekeeper, then Einar’s grocery delivery gal, and a friend from Manitoba who hauled in a small mountain of my belongings from my former residence.
Why must the ladies always keep showing us men up at hard work?
• • •
When are we going to get moving on our space travel project? Or do we intend to sit around while all our present money-making ways and industries disappear?
Coming adventures in space shuttles will be much more than profitable, but what’s holding us back? The answer to that would be the same lethargy that preceded Christopher Columbus!
Those early explorers succeeded within their limited means over 500 years ago. So let’s do it! Up, up and away! Why waste another New Year?
• • •
While “Nutty” is peeking through my balcony window, I began restoring my own picture gallery, which features my career all the way from grade school. The ladies who decorated my living room brought in those old photos, all glass and frames, but I had to put the photos up again when they fell off the wall!
Well, I don’t know whether “Nutty” will ever recover from shock. He has never had a single photo taken of himself while I can boast half-a-dozen on my wall now.
Chronologically, they start with me in Mine Centre with a sleigh dog and flag when I’m about 12. Then me with my guitar and my college graduation photo, including a bow tie, then with my parents and one alone with my dad.
The longest picture shows my whole RCAF “flight” lined up in front of Toronto’s Manning depot and, of course, my late wife, Emily, is with me in two more prints.
Now I don’t know anything about Nutty’s parents or why they raised him so hungry, and I’m sure he won’t ever have a wife with his wild ways. He doesn’t know enough to stay home much and wives don’t like that.
• • •
Bruce Armstrong, well-known in insurance and a former part-owner of Einar’s here, came along as a Meals on Wheels volunteer. He recognized me but had to tell me his own name.
He also was on town council for nine years, but I must have been spending too much time at my farm in those days.
Earlier, I would know most of our publicly-active citizens, at least by sight. While farming, though, I became acquainted with many more rural residents.
• • •
Remember when, for many years it seems, the U.S. dollar was only 10 cents better than our Canadian dollar? Well, having only one American $20 bill leftover from my Christmas trip, I still learned I was richer than I thought.
Because, using that to buy coffee, I was returned well over $2 plus the coffee.

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