Updated: Jul 24
What part of train rolling don't you find fun? That's a legit question for a bored 10-year-old. Scott Smith was my BF (I can't bring myself to write BFF). He and I were both headed toward the top 95% of our class (I'll wait for you...). That being said, we did enjoy ourselves as kids. We biked, walked, and ran all over our small town of Mexico, Missouri. I'm miffed that Scott and I aren't mentioned in the town's history. I mean, really, how many people can role under moving trains and say they didn't lose something important like their sanity. Want to hear the whole story?
It was a hot and humid midwest day in Mexico, Missouri. One of those lazy days of summer when people tried to stay cool. Everything and everybody moved slowly and with as little extra work as needed. Airconditioning wasn't assumed, and you could hear screen doors creak open and slam shut as people came out on their front porches, generally carrying something cold with condensation covering the side of the glass. Scott and I found it easy to move about without so many people running around town. I rode my bike to his house earlier. Those days I could ride anywhere without fear because everybody knew everybody and watched out for you. Unfortunately, there's a downside to that, as in being caught doing the fun stuff.
Ice Cream - YEAH!
We took off on foot, looking for something interesting to bide our time. Stopping in briefly at the Chevy dealership for a five-cent Coke and on to the park where we hoped to find some friends. We crashed an ice cream social with a small group of elderly people that we didn't know. They let us have some great ice cream, but it was melting all over. I'm assuming they had to eat it fast and needed some help. Super Kids are here to save the day! Soon we were full, and the old dudes were boring to the point it began to feel like a day in school. I know you types that love school are awesome. I won't judge you if you don't judge me.
Off we went, ready to explore the unknown depths of Mexico, Missouri. It was about this time we stepped onto the platform of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. It's also time for a little back story. I enjoyed taking the train from Mexico to my cousins in Illinois for a week's vacation. I had done this for several years, and for the past two years, I had traveled alone. It wasn't that long, but it was so cool to go by myself. I don't know if my folks were hoping I'd take a runner or if they believed in the goodness of humanity. Either way, I loved riding the train, and I always made it to my destination. I'm assuming my parents were fine with that. So, I knew this platform and the station person that met the trains. He was a really old dude, and we had some history.
Super Old Dude
Scott and I had caused him some frustrations in the past because we liked to ride our bikes across the tracks when we would hear the whistle blow. Always remember the top 95% of our class—an essential part of this story. We knew we had time, but the super old dude didn't like it.
This day we weren't riding bikes. As we crossed the platform, he nodded and said, "Hello boys, it's a hot one, isn't it?"
"Yes, sir," we answered confidently.
"You boys watch the train. Don't be doing anything foolish today!"
Uh-Oh, is that a challenge.? What is this foolishness he's talking about? There, on the tracks, was a freight train loaded to the full with grain from the MFA silos that stood only a short distance down the tracks. We assumed he meant this train, and without much thought, we walked on alongside that train.
"How far does this thing go," Scott seemed a bit frustrated? It did go a long way, and we would have to walk a very long distance to get in front of it to the other side. We could go back and walk up to the bridge, but that was a long way as well, and as the man said, it was sweltering.
We Did That?!
I don't know how this happened, but it was one of those eye-catching moments when you have the same thought at the same time. What do they call that when you say the same thing at the exact moment? We did that. We looked at each other with a grin. Scott pointed, and we said it together.
"Let's roll under the train!"
We looked side to side and back at the platform. The super old dude was not looking our way. It was time, but we heard the initial clunk of metal hitting metal at that exact moment. The couplings getting that first surge of pull. The wheels made their first small turn - I looked at Scott, he looked at me, and we dove for it. Scurrying as if our lives depended on it, we rolled and clawed our way to the other side. The voice of the man on the platform rising and falling, first in anger than in concern.
We yelled, " We're Okay!" Then it was time to go! We might be in the top 95% of our class, but we're not stupid. Well, maybe not stupid when it comes to fleeing the super old dude with an ax to grind. We brushed the dust and gravel from our clothes and took off running. The train moving off slowly and fading from our view as we turned a corner toward downtown. Hot, thirsty, and hungry. We didn't stop until we arrived at Logan's Rexal Drugs on the Square downtown. Rolling under trains takes it out of you. It was time for lunch and to have a great laugh.
Looking back, I know it was dangerous, but that day, it was simply hanging out with a friend exploring and having a blast. Sometimes we need to look at life this way. No, I won't be rolling under trains, and I highly suggest you pass on it as well, but I do suggest you go exploring and discover something out of the ordinary in your life. And if at all possible - take a friend.
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