by Sheila Dykes
Olive Branch, Mississippi
I am 48 years old now. When I was about eight years old, my Dad started taking my brother and I on trips to New Orleans. Sometimes we would take the City of New Orleans three or four times each month in the summer months. Often we would ride the train to New Orleans six times or more each year.
He loved the train and wanted very much for my brother and I to appreciate riding the rails. After I had my two girls I never found time to ride the Amtrak to New Orleans.
Years went by, my father got Alzheimer's, and I only had distant memories of all our train trips, yet I talked constantly to my girls about all the trips their granddaddy made with us on the train. I would often talk to him about the train while he was in the nursing home. I always thought I could see a spark in his eyes when I talked about Amtrak.
Five months before Katrina I suddenly decided it was time for my girls to experience Amtrak and New Orleans. It had been years since I had ridden the train and it was their first time. They had heard so much about it from me over the years. I was so excited it was almost embarrassing.
I loved each and every minute on the train and so did my girls. I purchased some pralines in New Orleans and brought them back to my Dad. He ate each one while I talked about our trip. I told him that we visited all his favorite spots in New Orleans, but mostly I told him about the attachment I will always feel for Amtrak.
I also told him his granddaughters were thrilled about the train and he would have been proud. I have since taken both of them back to New Orleans on Amtrak. I will not let so much time ever go by again without riding Amtrak.
Thank you for a lifetime of very special memories. I always think of my Dad ( he has since passed away) and I smile. Whenever I hear a train whistle I think of all our train trips. You have no idea how much Amtrak means to me.