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Train ride in the 70's

by Cherryl Gentles
(St Andrew)

Jamaica Independence Article/ Story Contest - Entry #05 - Train ride in the 70's

It was in the mid 1970’s and a little girl of six or seven years old was going on her first train ride from St. Andrew to Montego Bay, St. James to visit her aunt and family.

I do not recall sleeping that Friday night as the thrill of going on a train early Saturday morning was too much for my little head to catch a wink of sleep. My excitement was higher than the Blue John Crow mountains.

Mama woke me up early to get me dressed. We lived near the National Stadium so we just had to take one bus to the train station at Barry Street, downtown Kingston.

“Oh where is the bus?” I excitedly asked Mama. “It will soon be here Cherryl”, she said. “I see it, I see it!”

So on to downtown we go.

The train station at Barry Street was big and magical. There were people everywhere, all chatting excitedly and milling around everywhere. My eyes tried to take in every scene that was unfolding before me.

There were people with suitcases, children with their parents like me, people selling, people buying, people rushing, people sitting patiently on the long wooden benches, waiting for the train to roll in. My eyes ballooned seeing all this fanfare and I am sure I had this permanent grin on my face like the Cheshire cat from that awful book, “Alice in Wonderland” – hated that book and that cat.

“Where’s the train Mama”? I anxiously asked, probably a thousand time. “It will soon be here” she said. My little legs swinging faster than a hummingbird flapping its tiny wings over the bench.

I heard an unfamiliar loud sound. It wasn’t the rattling of the country bus that I used to go on to the country with Mama, nor was it a Leyland truck. So then, it must be train as I squealed loudly with delight inside.

I cannot recall the colour of the train but it was huge and majestically magical. I was in awe. I was going on the train! I am sure Mama held onto me with an iron grip as I wanted to be let go and dash into that big iron transport. I was on and Mama let me choose our seats. Naturally, I took the corner seat.

I watched intensely as persons walked to their seats carrying their luggage. I watched as there were sellers on the train showcasing their wares. Mama bought me gizzadas, grater cakes and probably peanut brittle.

The train was rolling out and I don’t know how mi likkle heart never give weh wid de amount of excitement that bubble up inna mi likkle chest.

The window was opened and I felt the air touching my face as I took in the beautiful sights of my island. I saw rivers, houses along the tracks, the mountains that were everywhere, the green, lush countryside.

Going through the tunnels was one of the best part of the train ride. As there was light and then sudden darkness. Some persons screamed in fear, but I screamed in sheer delight. The darkness was so thick that it seemed as if yuh could pinch it. Oh I love going through the tunnels! Mama laughed at my excitement.

The train I believed made an unscheduled stop on the tracks. Persons were getting off and wondering why. Mama and I got off too to see what was happening. As I said, I was six or seven, so am not sure why it stopped. Could it be that animal that I saw mainly on television. It was a big cow or bull and I wanted to get an up close and personal look. I started walking towards it and I remembered hearing Mama’s frantic call of my name behind me.

At least I got a good look at the cow or bull, live, before Mama snatched me away. I remembered some persons remarking about the little girl and the cow or bull, “how she nuh fraid”.

Back on the train and back to my sights which were still eye popping. We reached Montego Bay and our relatives greeted us at the train station and away we went to my aunt’s house. Another night of not sleeping as my train ride would begin once again next morning.

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Jul 30, 2022
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Good little read NEW
by: Kav

You still have that grin. The sheer delight of scream got me. I can only imagine that excitement, that of a child. Enjoyed.

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