When we were up in Oklahoma we got to go through the Science Museum, and they have a train car in the museum. It’s open a couple of times a year and we got lucky and were there during that time. Now, if you are not lucky enough to be in Oklahoma City when the train is open, many towns have either a steam train association or a small train museum. There are an amazing plethora of ways to experience traveling by train.
Now our guide was rather………. okay, there’s no nice way to say it, he didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. I’ll provide you a mini-rant when I get to the point I was no longer able to remain silent. I’ve both traveled by train personally AND read quite a lot about the time period.
Touring and pretending to travel on a train
Now this whole train car is a private car, and was made my the company’s executives. This is the equivalent of the lounge car where you can seat about 10 people. This couch transforms into a bunk bed. The back moves up to become the top bunk.
In the back is a speedometer “so the fat cats who were riding in it could tell if the drivers were slacking off and not doing their job, at which point they would be fired right away.”
Yeah………. I think he might have literally said that.
There was also a call button, which I did not get a picture of. I will not treat you to the nonsense he explained to us about how they porters were supposed to respond.
Ok, I will, because even six years later when I’m updating this post, it annoys me.
“When the porters (he may not even have used the correct term, he may have just said waiters) came in, they weren’t allowed to make eye contact with the people in the car. So they came in with their eyes down and spent the entire time bowed over. If they made eye contact or looked at the people in the car, you would be fired.”
Y’all, I’m not kidding, he actually said all that nonsense.
Here’s a bedroom. This particular car had 3 bedrooms in addition to the lounge. The lounge was able to sleep 4. Each of the bedrooms was able to sleep 2, which made for beds for 10 passengers and then 2 crew beds.
During the day the room looks like this, there are two roomy chairs and a table in between. The ceiling above is slightly sloped because that is the bunk bed that pulls down for people to sleep on.
Unfortunately, with the holly on the top bunk it’s a little hard to see what it was like. But, the top bunk pulls down, and those two chairs slide together to make a bed. It’s rather like RV beds now.
At this point, I was biting my tongue really hard not to correct him as he attempted to explain traveling by rail.
Ummm…… I’ve traveled by train, and it had very little to do with what he said.
Future Ticia, it must not have been that egregious because I’m not remembering this nonsense six years later.
The dining car was set up with a full course meal, and our guide said the cooks would have to be ready to serve a full course meal at the drop of a hat.
My experience with trains is you have an assigned time to come for your meal and you come then and are presented with several options. Now this is a private car, so it may be different, but I don’t know of any chef who is able to create a multi-course meal at the drop of a hat.
I might mention our guide was a college student who probably doesn’t cook anything more complicated than Ramen.
And now we come to the part where I totally lost it and corrected him POLITELY. I was polite. I just need to be sure you understand, I was very polite.
He said, “The owner of the car was very proud of hiring ex-slaves who had just recently been freed from slavery. He required them to memorize this whole thing on the rules of etiquette. It was very hard for them because it was a lot to memorize.”
REALLY! REALLY!?!?! Okay, how many ways can this be wrong?
1. It was build in 1929. The slaves were freed in 1865. RECENTLY FREED? At most we’re talking about their grandchildren.
2. Illiterate, I might give you, but the literacy rate was not as bad as he was making it out to be.
3. Pre-literate cultures are very good at memorizing things. That is the whole reason we still have the Iliad and the Odyssey. They MEMORIZED them. You know the whole hundred page poem.
Okay, end of my rant. I can feel my heart rate rising in annoyance.
All of that being said, it was fun to tour the train. I just wish we hadn’t gotten the substitute tour guide, but the older man who was in full conductor costume.