Circus Train

The greatest show on earth...

One of my early memories is one night my father working a late shift at the depot, and calling Mom to hurry and come over there. Very unusual for him to do. Mom didn't tell me why, wanting to surprise me.

When we got there, he took us out back, onto the platform by the tracks. It was pitch black, but a clear night with stars twinkling overhead as I looked up. As my eyes adjusted, I looked straight ahead and noticed a stopped train. I could hear the engine down the line idling, and once and awhile I could hear a car shift and bang against the next one. I soon could make out smells like a farm, and colorful pictures on the sides of the cars.

"It's the circus train," my Dad said, a smile in his voice.

"Really?" I exclaimed, all wide-eyed.

"Yep...it's the Barnum and Bailey, Ringling Brothers, too - the Greatest Show on Earth - see it on the train?"

There it was, in large bold letters, along with pictures of elephants and clowns and horses.

"Can we go closer, Dad?" I asked.

"Sorry, but it's just made a quick stop before going into Canada. You can't board, and it's too dangerous to go closer."

I was disappointed, but that passed quickly. Just to get a chance to see the train was magical. I knew it even then...