What a Long, Strange Day


December 26, 1996
 Friday

Today was very … eventful.  Where should I even start?  The beginning is always a good place.  Now, the first part of this tale, about trains, I wrote as it was happening.  The second segment’s event’s I am summarizing:

Here I am, watching trains with Hoke.  It has to currently be a wind-chill of -10 degrees, but here I am, locomotive-hunting once again.  Actually, I froze long ago as I write this in the passenger seat of Hoke’s Thunderbird, my usual place.  Yet, out there is Hoke, braving the cold, looking left and right occasionally, in hopes of seeing another train pass by.

Of all the places in the world we are along the tracks in Knoxville, next to the town’s Casey’s General Store.  People must think we’re totally wacko to be out on such a blustering, chilled day.  There he goes now, finally raising his camera to photograph his 10,000th train (I’m just happy I have feeling in my toes again).

After eating, we’ll be off again, to watch more trains on the bridge in Galesburg (a regional rail hub) that overlooks the expansive train yard.   I don’t entirely get the fascination Hoke has with these machines, but his feelings are completely genuine, so I go along with it.  And while it sounds like I am griping right now (I am) we have also had many small adventures seeking these metals beasts out the last two years through our area.  I’ll miss this, too.

*   *   *   *   *

What a long day.  That was just the beginning.  We then went to Galesburg’s Walmart, on the far north end of Henderson Street.  I made good use of the stop by getting the new Phil Collins album Dance Into the Light.  Hoke wasn’t having much of that, and the chosen music soon went back to the usual classics we listen to as we drive: Collective Soul, AC/DC, and Garth Brooks (he’s country, but he’s always okay), with the seven-disc changer in Hoke’s trunk. We went back to watching trains.

We were back in Elmwood by five, and went to Hoke’s house, about two blocks west of mine.  There Hoke got a call from his aunt, Dorris, who is also the co-owner of the Hub.  As we stood in the kitchen listening, she said Ainsley and Holly were GOING SKIING, and weren’t going to work the dance hall’s big New Year’s Eve party.  I was so let down, I don’t know how to explain it.

So, right now I am the only one scheduled to work that night.  Dorris also asked, at the end, if we knew any quick replacements for that night (and maybe longer…).  Sidney, Leslie K, Jake, and Emma sprang to mind.  I called Sidney first, but she wasn’t home.  Then we tried Leslie K’s house, but she was out with Emma.  It all being still in the air, Hoke, his cousin Jack, and I then went to see the pretty crummy Jingle All the Way uptown at the Palace Theater. But don’t look for a full review; my heart was barely in it.  Pretty bad, though.

When the movie was over at nine Hoke and I went back to Jack’s to play his new Nintendo 64.  It was pretty fun, with really interesting graphics.  It was there (at about 10:30) that we got another call, from Hoke’s house.  Emma and Leslie K were at his house, looking for him.  Yes see, Leslie K’s dad told Leslie K that I had called, so she tried to call my house.  But my mom told her I was at Hoke’s.  So then Leslie K tried Hoke’s, and Hoke’s sister called us.  Whew (If you followed that you get a prize).

We then went back to Hoke’s house, and Emma and Laura wanted to get pizza someplace, saying they had been thrilled I had called.  So all four of us went to Farmington seven miles to the south, but the Pizza Hut was closed, so we got frozen pizzas and again returned to Hoke’s.  We had a lot to talk about, between Christmas and the Hub.

Unfortunately, they can’t work because they are going to have a party on New Year’s Eve at Emma’s.  Which is fine, because that’s what you’re supposed to do.  They invited us to come, but we are still roped into working.  Sigh.  I am still counting on Sidney, who will call tomorrow.  Willa hasn’t been called yet.

Am I mad or happy at the way this day turned out?

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