I recall traveling by passenger train in the 1960s. Mom would often take my sister, brother and me on the Missouri Pacific Eagle from Harlingen, where my father was Claim Agent, to Palestine to visit relatives. We would always get two seats that faced two other seats, where we would set up camp. Mom would pack a bag with sandwiches or fried chicken for lunch.
Periodically Mom would forgo the sack lunch and we would have lunch in the dining car. This was a memorable experience. We ate lunch that was served on fine china by a professional staff. It was as nice as any fine restaurant anywhere. We would settle back into our little camp and relax, watching the landscape go by as we moved along the rails from deep south Texas to the pine woods of east Texas.
As a young boy I was amazed and mesmerized by the locomotives and all the rail cars passing through station after station along the way. We'd dash through cities and small towns. I can still hear the sound of the locomotives horn and the dinging of the bells on the crossing signals as we passed by. That infatuation continued throughout my adolescent years. I eventually went to work for the Missouri Pacific and joined the Union Pacific in the UP-MP Merger in 1983. Every time I see an Amtrak train pass by, I recall the MoPac Eagle and the wonderful times my family had riding those ribbons of steel through the Texas countryside.