DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

April 11, 2008

                                                           

                                      

Sign of the Times

“Travel, except in almost inaccessible places,
is no longer the answer to finding solitude.”

With that quote from the writer Paul Theroux in mind, I felt I needed some travel. The only thing missing was the time to do so. But it struck me each morning as of late when I am driving westward from my home through some of the farm country south of Columbus. I notice that the sun is coming up in my rearview mirror on the right side of the mirror…indicating the north. Summer is coming. Winter and the low southern winter sun is a thing of the past. I now drive to and from work in daylight most of the time. And seeing the sun move to the north makes me more inclined to travel.

But I am not going anywhere special on a couple days off. I am not going to any place inaccessible nor will I find great solitude. But I am left to wonder about one family.

Driving somewhere on the outskirts of Fairfield, Franklin and some other county, I find myself traveling through a little crossroads that at one time was no doubt a train/grain depot. I think there was a river bend and a bar and maybe a gas station. But, on the road side there was one of those signs that you can rent and put in front of your home or business to announce things. (God forbid you should do that in Dublin, but in the hinterland the announcement sign is the “town crier” of the community.)

This sign was fairly simple and baffling and it said…
“We’ll miss you Mom & Dad”

I just kept on driving and wondering.

I lived in Montana some years ago. A large part of the state is prairie and relatively flat. That’s the Eastern portion. But the southern and western areas are spectacular mountains. Drive through there and around every bend, mountain or valley….and you will see another and equally spectacular vista. While I never tire of inspiring vistas, one can almost take it for granted. Drive for 20 minutes in one Montana valley and you can be assured that when you drive out of that valley that your senses will be wonderfully assaulted by something even more spectacular.

I still remember a Canadian man from British Columbia just north of Montana and Washington State saying to me, “If you think this is spectacular, you should see where I live.” Well, I have and he is right. But if you are expecting such substance in a central Ohio journey you are going to be disappointed. That’s why you have to be alert to enjoy the subtleties of the land.

I seem to recall a nice rolling valley, of say, a quarter mile as the highway went across  Darby Creek. That would be a pretty difficult thing for a Westerner who lived in the shadow of the Rockies to appreciate at first notice. But it was there.

 

The river itself winds through some lush woods and while I would have liked to imagine that I was miles and days away from civilization, I could hear the constant sound of the nearby railroad.

At the park, there was a young man and woman who climbed off their big motorcycle and sat on a bench. And while I doubt I would have been mistaken for Harley owner, I struck up a conversation with the cyclists.

Yes, they enjoyed the wonderful Spring weather and with the kids off in elementary school they hopped on their motorcycle for a couple hours. He mentioned that he was a railroader. So I mentioned that I used to work for the B & O Railroad during my college summers and we connected for the moment. He rode the rails between a couple cities and today was his day off, unless he got called in.

I asked him how many men were on a crew in the engine these days. He said, “just me and the engineer.” I wondered what he would do if the engineer who was driving the train, suddenly keeled over. His response, “Stop the train.”

I told him, “In my day, there were crews of five men, not just two.” I expected him to shrug, because this did not seem like anything important. But he took this news in and then let out a “Wow!” Like I had come out of a time warp. I was from a different era that he, as a young railroader had heard about but never thought he would meet anyone who had been a part of such a thing as a five-man crew. I don’t think he would have been any more impressed if I told him I had been in Sherman’s Army that stormed through Atlanta.

We talked for a few minutes and I tried to sprinkle my conversation with as many railroader terms as I could remember, like “Station Master,” “Car Pecs”, and “switch keys”. He and his wife realized that I had indeed, lived the life of a railroader at one time, long ago. And it was clear that it was “long ago” to them because when I moved on, the woman, as she zipped up her black leather motorcycle jacket said to me, “Nice talking with you sir.”

Sir.

I got in my car and drove away. And though the day was filled with few towering mountains and valleys, I was left thinking about that sign that I saw earlier in the day that told “Mom and Dad” that they “would be missed.” Or was it Mom & Dad who were telling their children that they (the kids) would be missed? Regardless of who had left who…why would you put it on an advertising sign on the high way? And still I wonder. No matter. It was heartfelt.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing