Thursday, October 3, 2013

My Train of Thought

Have you sat at a railroad crossing as a train chugged past anytime during the last decade wondering when it would end? It used to be so easy to tell. The sight of the friendly red caboose always made me smile. It wasn’t just because I was ready to be on my way. It was the wave of the man riding in the last train car that always made the wait seem not so bad. How could you be angry when someone smiled and waved from that funny-shaped bright red car signaling you on your way? Technology has eliminated the need for a caboose and I miss it. They were a part of Americana. In school, if a child was delegated to be at the end of the line, it took some of the sting out of the position when they were given the title of “Caboose.” If you tell a kindergartener today they are a caboose, you’ll have to explain exactly what that means. Now when a train stops us, the most entertainment we can hope for is some colorful graffiti to look at as it passes. You never know when the last car is coming; it’s just boxcar, boxcar, flatcar, tank car, boxcar, gone. That seems so wrong. It’s like having a sentence with no period, no definite ending. Would it be too much to ask the railways to put a dummy caboose on trains just so we'd know our wait was over? They could even put one of those automated waving hands in the window for nostalgia’s sake! When I searched to see exactly when the caboose met its demise, I discovered I wasn’t the only person wondering. It seems many Americans are missing the caboose. The lead car gets all of the glory. A book about Thomas the Tank Engine by Wilbert Awdry inspired its own PBS television show, toys, and theme parties. Most children hear the story of “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper. Another popular book “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg, was made into a movie by the same name. There are hundreds of great books about trains but a precious few about the caboose. We all know the train has been immortalized in music. Who hasn’t sung along with “Midnight Train to Georgia, “City of New Orleans,” or “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad?” Again, this list is seemingly endless. I can’t think of a single time when I’ve turned up the radio and belted out a jazzy caboose song. Maybe if we’d been a little more vocal, shown a little more love, written a few more books or songs about the train’s happy red caboose, it wouldn’t have left us. Just in case you’re listening railroad companies…PLEASE, BRING BACK THE CABOOSE!! America needs them.

Recipes You'll Wish You Didn’t Know

Chew~Chew Walnut Coconut Bars


2 cups ~ All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp ~ Baking Powder
½ tsp. ~ Salt
2/3 cup ~ Packed Brown Sugar
1 tsp. ~ Vanilla Extract
3 ~ Eggs
1 ½ cups ~ Semisweet Chocolate Chips
¾ cup ~ Chopped Walnuts
½ cup ~ Shredded Coconut


Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease 9x13” baking pan.
In a large bowl, cream together shortening, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla.
Slowly blend flour, baking powder, and salt.
Mix until well blended.
Fold in the chocolate chips, walnuts, and coconut.
Use a spatula to spread evenly in pan.
Bake 20 – 25 minutes.
Let cool and cut into bars. Makes approx. 18

Train Your Puppy

When you bring a puppy into your family, it’s important to teach it five basic commands. These are not just for a more obedient dog but also for their safety. The first three are sit, stay, and come. All of these can keep your pup from running into the road, running after another animal or knocking over a small child. The last two, down and heel are necessary for proper leash training. Not much will ruin a walk quicker than playing tug of war from both ends of the leash. All five of these commands are usually easy to teach with love and patience. I would suggest when you visit the pet store to buy your puppy supplies; you pick up a book specifically geared to your dog’s breed. If you are the proud owner of a mixed breed, pick up a basic puppy-training book for help. It is also a great idea as well as a wonderful bonding experience to join in a local puppy class. Check with your vet or online for classes in your area. Good luck!

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