L.A. Train by Carlos Najera

It was time to leave. There was nothing keeping us here anymore. My mother knew some people near Los Angeles so she decided to take us there to live. There was a factory there that processed sugar beets. There was a seaport nearby, there would always be work there.

There was a train now that connected Calexico north to Los Angeles.  I remember our family getting on the train. Waco Jack was there, he was helping us take our things to the train station. He had a sad look on its face. I think he liked my mom. Doña Tula was there. She brought along a bag of things to eat for the trip. The other neighbor ladies were there also. There were others, mostly friends of my father. All of them were sad.

 It was late in the afternoon when we climbed on board. It was a passenger train. This meant that it consisted of coaches only.  There were no Pullman sleepers on this train line. There were no freight cars. The train was the most modern and the fastest way to travel. It moved about fifteen miles an hour and it stopped at every depot.

It was very hot that time of year and the only air-conditioning they had was an open window. This was not always a good idea. The exhaust fumes and smoke from the big engines would waft inside the cars until everyone was nauseous.

When it started getting dark the porter came in and  lit the gas lamps. He opened the little glass door on the lamp with the key turned on the gas and lit it with a burning wick. He went through the entire train turning on the lamps one by one.

Later a vendor came with fruit and candies and sandwiches, even things to drink. I was sitting listening to the sound of the train wheels on the track. The train rocked a little from side to side. That with the clickety clacking sounds whenever the wheels past the joints of the rails hypnotized me and I fell asleep. I did not wake up until the morning.

We arrived at Los Angeles about eight in the morning.

In front of the train station was a streetcar. It was powered by electricity. We got on the streetcar. The Streetcar was open on all sides, much like the way the cable cars are in San Francisco. One man operated the cable car and another man there took the tickets or the fare. They were both dressed in blue uniforms. I remember the conductor rang the bell loudly as he moved down the street.

Later on that day another train took us north through the mountains and down to the coast to a large coastal plain. This was mostly farmland. We could see the ocean in some islands far to the west. An old Spanish mission and the town of Ventura were little to the north across the river. There was a general store that the crossroads. The people called it EL Rio because it was by the River. There was a town called Port Hueneme. There was a new town, still but a few hundred people in population. There was a large sugar beet factory there in the town was growing all around it.

This would be our new home, where everything was new, until it got old. This was to be my hometown, but I was never at home here, in Oxnard, California.

About jedwardnajera

I am an artist and a Poet. I live the life of a poet. I published several novels. Nena the Fairy and the Iron Rose, Dust of the Moon are among them, available through Amazon Books. I have spent over thirty five years in a classroom. I am now retired from that profession. My father kept a living record of his lifetime as he lived through the Twentieth Century. He was born in 1908 and almost lived long enough to see us enter the new millennium. He entrusted to me nearly 400 pages that he wrote through the years. Now I am continuing the tradition by posting my own stories and misadventures. I am trying to post a new entry or chapter each Friday. Check in on us at least once a week for the latest post.
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