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Edition #127, June 1, 2010

Trouble at Railroad Daze

Photographer: Paul Hoffmann

                                                                                   Photo by Paul Hoffmann

Trouble at Railroad Daze

Each year on the third weekend of May, Franklin Park, Illinois, a northwest Chicago suburb near O’Hare airport holds it’s annual “Railroad Daze.”  Several railroads bring locomotives and passenger cars to display.  May 19, 2007 was the first year I brought my son, Stephen, who was just three years old. 

The public is often allowed to tour the locomotives.  On one of the locomotives, Stephen found the horn button.  Being the curious and mischievous type, he pushed it and scared himself half-to-death with the loud sound!  This set in motion a concert of locomotive horns for the next two hours.  I heard one kid excitedly exclaim he “got to blow the horn on all of the locomotives!”  I quickly realized it was my son who started the trend!

The same year, Metra operation Lifesaver had a table setup with the usual flyers, pencils, etc. and a cardboard mockup of a combination locomotive/bi-level car.  I posed him staring at it in front of the UP E-9’s that were on display that year.  It was a warm spring day, so we had the windows open on the ride home.  As we went through a major intersection, he was playing with it too close to the window and it flew out the car and into the street.  I looked in the rearview mirror and saw it being crushed by a car passing through the intersection.  When I informed Stephen that I couldn’t get the locomotive for him, he cried the rest of the way home.  He was inconsolable. To this day, when he sees the picture, he begs and pleads for a new one.  When I tell him I don’t have any, he breaks out into tears.  Some things are priceless!

Paul Hoffmann

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