Your kind indulgence is requested as I reminisce.
I don't pretend to know all the reasons for this sudden desire. Perhaps it's the fact that my mother died less than three weeks ago. My family and I just buried our favourite uncle, too. Often, major events compel us to recall life stories.
I do know that time is fleeting and the temporal things we hold dear will fade away. In the process, our remembrances become increasingly priceless.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the train trip against which all other journeys are invariably compared.
On Monday, the 5th day of April, 1971, my father and I departed Chicago's Dearborn Station via Santa Fe's Super Chief en route to Los Angeles.
The service died (under Amtrak auspices) in 1974; my dad in '86 (25 years ago this June).
You know, I wish I could tell him just one more time how much he meant to me. I'm eternally grateful I did tell him, back when I had the chance.
Boyd Harris Latham was quite successful in business and a very busy man. He also didn't like trains very much! To be painfully honest, he considered the entire railroad industry anachronistic - a feeling which served to undermine my career from the outset.
Still, my father unselfishly gave me, just the two of us, three full days of his time leading into the busiest season of his year. The trip (including air fare: a 707 from Dallas' Love Field to Chicago and a brand new 747 back home from L.A.) was no great financial hardship; rather, it was his willingness to freely offer a part of himself that helped make the event everything it was...and has helped keep the memories of that occasion so precious. As long as the Lord gives me breath and a mind that functions, I'll remember.
Garl Boyd Latham
Happy Father's Day!
This evening, as one thought segued to the next, I recalled something profound my Dad once said.
As I've already noted, he was never a supporter of our industry, nor could he ever truly relate to my interest in it.
Shortly after a dinner held in honour of my 18th birthday, my father gave me a hug and told me, in front of several witnesses, that he "had always figured I'd eventually outgrow" my enthusiasm for railroading; but, if he had to make the choice, he'd "rather have me like trains than be a heroin addict or run around with loose women."
I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or throw up!
He was one of a kind. I miss him terribly.
45 years ago this moment, we were in the dining car eating dinner as our streamliner approached Joliet.
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