Trains, Then and Now

I've been an unreliable correspondent recently. Sorry. Busy. Jumped on a high speed train in December and haven't pulled into a station since. Need to find a new writing pattern. I figure that this slot, on the 6:05 from Smithtown to NY Penn Station, is likely what will work on a regular cadence, so here we go.

Back in the day, the Long Island Railroad's slogan was "The Route of the Dashing Dan." I remember that because the name my dad (a long time LIRR commuter) went by wasn't his first, Maurice, but his middle, Daniel. "Dan" to mom and his friends.

Before taking this job with NCR I used the train only occasionally. Not to say without impact however, since on one of those occasions I met my future wife, somewhere between Kings Park, where she boarded, and Jamaica, where we changed trains to catch the one bound for Penn. (In those days, before electrification was completed all the way to Port Jefferson, the eastern terminus of this line, you had to do that, since diesel locomotives couldn't travel through the tunnel under the East River.)

On that November day in 1976, a Saturday I think, I was headed into Manhattan to go to the ski show held at the beginning of each season to allow the industry to hawk its wares to enthusiasts (I was one) eager for a taste of their favorite sport after the long break.

I noticed Ellie right away when she took a seat directly in front of mine. Estee' Lauder's "Youth Dew" helped. Her mom worked there at the time, I learned sometime later that day.

It was only after we changed trains however, Ellie now sitting one row ahead and across the aisle, that I saw that she was reading a "how to" ski paperback. Fate… and all the encouragement I needed to overcome my shyness. I said something about where I was headed, Ellie said she was too, and asked if I knew how to get to the show.

The exuberant one word call that Marv Albert used when a NY Knick shot found the basket at a big moment, "YES!" came to mind, with both its connotations in play.

We spent the rest of the day together. By the time we parted company, we'd agreed to a follow-on date, specifics not set. Ellie thought I wouldn't call.

I did.

We had dinner at a restaurant then called "Gentleman Farmer" that later changed hands to become Casa Rustica, an Italian place that became a favorite for many years to come, and still one to this day. (It's now run by the son of one of the two then owners.)

This last September 2nd, Ellie and I celebrated our 31st anniversary.

And now, as we've heard happens by about this time in life, I'm becoming my father. Commenting on my three quarter profile from behind the other day, Ellie said, "You look just like dad from this angle." Shaving this morning, I realize that I look quite a bit like him head on as well. And now I catch the LIRR from Smithtown, (dad's station too) each morning for a job in the city, just like all the other later day Dashing Dans around me.

Lirr dashing dan

Posted in Family, People.

One Comment

  1. HI Rich,
    Thanks for sharing those happy memories, I would say that the seats on the train are a little more comfortable now days! It appears that the LIRR has been pretty reliable, but you have not mentioned if you have gotten stuck in any snowstorms on the train! Winter is not over yet, so please post and update if the LIRR has gotten better at keeping the trains running when Mother Nature starts to remind us who is the boss!
    Steve B.

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