I was living in Los Angeles right after World War II – 1946, 3rd grade. The eastbound Union Pacific track ran within two blocks of my house. I don’t know how far the North Maringo crossing was from the depot, but both freight and passenger trains were still grunting and snorting trying to get out of town. There was a slight upgrade where it crossed over the street. I often ran to the crossing, sat on the curb, and watched the trains. Directly behind where I sat was a dense patch of thorny century plants.
On the evening in question a fine mist was falling and when the engineer got even with me – about ten feet away – he cracked the throttle and that steam locomotive spun its drive wheels and made a helluva noise. I thought it was exploding.
Time was of the essence. Mom spent ten minutes pulling thorns out of me.