This morning my subject well is empty. There is nothing that needs saying. So I went back to basics. I conducted a random word search in the first book I could lay my hands on: Lee, the last years. I failed to note the page that fell open. I only remember the word my finger pointed to: BIG.
The year is 1956, the month is October, the day is 15. I’d just enlisted in the air force, taken my oath, and boarded a train bound to Texas. Though second thought were no longer an option I still wondered what I’d left myself get into.
I was among strangers, standing in the coach waiting for the train to leave the station when perhaps the largest man I’d ever see. suggested we should go to the last car and wave goodbye to the folks. I didn’t have any folks to wave to, but I went along just the same.
The train began moving the moment I closed the door behind us. Everyone, my fellow enlistees and people standing on the platform, were all waving and shouting farewells back and forth when the conductor joined us.
A conductor of a Kansas City Southern Passenger Train probably had to have many years in his wake. He certainly fit the image.
“Hey!” he shouted, his voice that of a very old person, “you can’t be out here.”
We all turned and we probably would have silently obeyed, but the big man was not accustomed to bending to another man’s will.
“Wadda you mean we can’t be out here?” he shouted down at the top of his head.
Without a doubt, the conductor had faced similar situations, so instead of responding, he turned on his heel and reentered the coach.
Without another word we followed, the young giant trailing behind.