The Effect of Transportation on People in History




My grandmother had been my favorite person all the years of my life.  When I was twelve, we had to move to California, and leave her behind in Delaware.  I thought I would die.  I prayed I would see her again, but it was a far fetched dream.  My mother and I cried as we boarded a train for San Francisco with Father and my older brother.

All of my brother’s friends were there in Delaware.  He choked back an angry scowl.  He was fifteen, and very angry with Father for forcing him to come to California with the family.  My brother had argued many times in a loud voice that he was old enough to stay, that he wanted to stay.

I didn’t argue.  I knew it would be useless.  My father would be getting a better job.  Mother said I would like California.

Once in San Francisco, following a sixty hour train ride, we moved into a hotel room where we would stay until we found a home to rent or buy.  Immediately after unpacking, I sat down to write a letter to my grandmother.  I would tell her of the train ride, what California was like, and how I was doing.

A year passed.  I regularly heard from Grandmother, and she always sent a letter back.  One day I realized it had been weeks since I had had a letter from my grandmother.  I returned home from school to find a tearstained telegram from Delaware in Mother’s hands.

“Mother?  What is that telegram about?”  I asked quietly, fearing I knew.

“Grandmother.  She is ill and dying.”

I was silent.

“How I wish we could see her and say goodbye!”  Mother wailed, bursting into fresh tears.

I set my jaw.  My mother and I would see Grandmother again.  We would use my allowance money I had been saving for train tickets all the way to Delaware.

“Mother.  We will.  You and me.  We’ll take a train with my allowance money to see Grandmother.”

Together we went to the train station after leaving a note for Father telling him we would be back in about a week.  The train fares were high, and mother had to use some of our food money for the trip there.  We didn’t know how we would get back.

I was anxious during the ride.  The train wheels chugged saying ‘I can’t go faster. I can’t go faster’.  After hours and hours, Mother and I flew off the train.  We were tired and sick of sitting, but we couldn’t rest.  We had to see Grandmother.  I didn’t look at my old house as we passed it in a coach, I only wanted Grandmother.

The coach pulled up outside the house, and before it had stopped I was out and halfway up the walkway.

Mother shouted for me to wait.  I didn’t.  I burst into the house and ran to my Grandmothers bed.

“Grandmother!  Grandmother!  Mother and I have come!”  I yelled.

There was the doctor.  He shook his head.  I didn’t understand.

I went to the bedside and shook my grandmother, “Grandmother!”  I felt her face, it was cold.  I laid my hand on her chest.  She had no heartbeat.

Mother came into the room.

The doctor said, “I’m sorry.  She passed away about thirty minutes ago.”

I screamed.  We had been thirty minutes too late!  Thirty minutes!  If the train had gone a little faster, we would have made it!  Sixty hours on a train and were thirty minutes too late!  We left the room, as the doctor also left.                 

I screamed and cried.  Mother wept silently.  I couldn’t believe what had happened. 


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