This recent train ride by my wife Elaine and I was a far cry from my last one 50 years ago, when I was robbed.
Photo by a kind lady on the Dinner Train.
by Oscar Roloff
Thanks to John and Colleen Hill of Woodinville, my wife Elaine and I recently climbed aboard the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train at Renton and headed northward toward Woodinville.
The two had given us free tickets for the junket. What a pleasent surprise, and in the Dome section.
Years ago, I used to ride the rods on flat cars. Had no money. The Depression was on. We were poor. It was a good background and stepping stone to eventual success as a correspondent and publisher.
Our slow pace permitted us to see the scenery and enjoy the excellent dinner and wines. Upon arrival at Woodinville, the train slid alongside Columbia Winery. Here we disembarked to see how wines are made. After tasting several wines, we took one bottle home as a reminder of an excellent tour.
Turning around to head to Renton, we enjoyed our dessert and wines. What a splendid trip for us and the others, making our mundane lives more pleasant. All seemed to enjoy themselves. Happiness and comradeship was in full swing among us, once total strangers.
Fifty years earlier
In 1946, a half-century earlier, I was in New York doing investigative work for the Navy. I was then ordered to Seattle and boarded a train. All previous transfers had been via plane. I had a wife and new son awaiting me in Seattle.
On the first night out, someone lifted over $700 from my wallet, leaving me broke. I'd been in my sleeper and felt no intrusion. Though I notified train officials, no thief was found.
Two young Air Forces colonels heard of my plight. One said, "We have 'roomettes' and my buddy has one with an extra bed. Why don't you stay with us? We'll take care of your meal costs and such."
I accepted the offer. They were nice fellows and we ended up this way: I'd call them buck privates in the rear rank and they'd call me Vice Admiral. What fun we had, laughing and joking in merriment.
Upon arrival at Seattle, I got their address and had my wife send them a check for the amount they'd spent on me. They sent it back.
Thus that train ride was of theft and a couple of good guys, and this last one, 50 years later, was one of a group of riders who had a good time, eating an excellent meal and sipping on wine and such enjoyments.
Thus old friends and new acquaintances still gather together, sip a few drinks, laugh, and enjoy life as it should be lived. Even a passage of 50 years shows that friends are forever, new ones and old ones.
Later I'd heard that the two colonels had been killed in a plane accident. Too bad. But I still remember their kindness. Memories are lasting.