Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Special delivery on train No. 8

It was January 1945, the last year of World War II. I was waiting on the train platform of the depot in Caliente, Nevada for Union Pacific train No. 8 to pull in from Los Angeles. And I was nervous.

The man I was waiting for was a United States Marine Corps captain and I hadn’t seen him since the spring of 1943. Would I recognize him? Do I want to recognize him? Would he be on the train, or would he find some other way to get home without seeing me?

Of course we had been corresponding all the months, since I had met him on a blind date in the spring of 1943. He was assigned to the South Pacific and left for overseas in the fall of 1943. Now he was back in the states and had been in California for a couple of weeks — I never did understand why it took him so long to meet me....

I had been working for the past year as a telegrapher for the Union Pacific Railroad and had been stationed in all kinds of whistlestops (and I mean that literally). I had received a leave of absence and time was fleeting. Where was that man? Had he found a new love?

They were running two sections of No. 8 that day and the first section pulled in to Caliente. No sign of anyone I knew, so I asked the conductor if I could go through the train, on a search for a reluctant Marine (if that’s what he was).

The search proved futile.

Well, I had one more chance – another section of No. 8 was to arrive shortly. I was really getting nervous and my imagination was running wild. Here came that second section sliding to a stop in front of me. I started walking down the platform, straining to look in all the windows.

And there he was, I was sure of it! I took forever for the conductor to open the doors of that car and then out stepped that Marine Corps captain ... and our life together began.

That was my perfect moment.

Joan, Aurora, Colorado

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