Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mail Train Adventures

A free ticket to ride the mail train came with my dad’s job.  The railroad called these tickets a “Free Pass.”

This train was the slowest train on earth, because it stopped at every small town along the rail road tracks. A special rail car on this train was used for the sorting of mail that would be dispensed along the way. The mail was then distributed to the local post offices and would soon be delivered to the neighboring households.

Each summer my dad would secure enough free passes for my mother and us three kids to ride the train as far as Fresno, where my Grandparents would pick us up.

Then we would visit Grandma and Grandpa for at least two weeks before retracing our steps to again ride home with our Free Pass.

Our fun time was running through the sprinkler while the lawn was being watered, and grandpa would let us take turns dunking in the irrigation tank that held the water before it ran out to the grove of orange and olive trees.

One 1945 hot August summer after “vacationing with our Grandparents,” and as we were traveling back to our home on the slow train; several women came running through the train making quite a loud racket. 

It seemed as if the entire train was in an uproar!

One lady was carrying a bottle of some kind of liquor as she shouted; “The War is over!”

Men and women began to dance in the aisles. They were laughing and having a great time. We sat in our seats with eyes wide open and watched it all!

President Truman had just made the radio announcement that Japan had surrendered and the World War II was over.  Everyone was in a very happy mood.  The train also sang with joy as it chugged along tooting its whistle.

Officially on August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito’s announcement of Japan's acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration was broadcast to the Japanese people over the radio.

The war was over, but everything was far from returning to normal.  All the ship yards immediately closed down, the airplane factories stopped production, and all the nice cushy War jobs were over.

Returning Military men took back their jobs, and employment became scarce for many, including the young persons just graduating from High school.

Our family was not affected, because the railroads went on, my grammar school was commencing in September, and now we could throw away our ration books, and hope we could soon purchase gasoline again.

That wasn’t my last ride on the slow mail train, but it certainly was a ride to remember.

image courtesy


  1. How thrilling to be in the midst of all that joy of a war ended!

  2. What a wonderful memory... Hazel, how I wish you were to write a book detailing the intricate facts of life then and how they can be related to now. This sample of writing sounds like the perfect pitch to an agent or editor. I'm really serious.

    If you don't record these kind of details, and weave them into a Christian narrative, who will? Not many people are qualified to have the perspective that you do.

    This was warm and wonderful, how I'd love to read all of this story...

  3. you have so many clear and interesting memories.


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