Glee! What a phenomenal show! Who knew?

They take music from different eras and re-make it into wonderful renditions – sometimes much better than the original artist created. Regardless of the rendition, there is magic in the music. When you hear the tune, the music has the capacity to transport you across time and space to a particular place frozen in time at one particular moment.

It is amazing how much detail you can remember from one event when you hear a few strains of music from a particular song, or piece. You can recall such intimate details as if it happened just yesterday. Details, such as who you were with, where you were going, what you were doing, the temperature outside, the aromas in the air. It is like the music is a time machine.

For instance, every time I hear Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young singing “Our House” on the radio, the song transports me back in time and across space to a particular day in January 1971 on Waters Avenue in Tampa.  I am driving my Mom’s car to school and it is cold outside.  The heater is going, the windows are all the way up, and I am going too fast, as all high school kids tend to do.

Because it is cold, the windows are up, and the radio is going full blast with the strains of “Our House” filling the small confines of the car, the music sounds really, really good.

And because it is cold, and the windows are up, and the radio is going full blast I don’t hear the train’s horn.

I also don’t see it until the last moment because of the bushes along the track blocking the view of the tracks.

This is not good. 

At the last moment, I slam on the brakes, lock up the tires, and go sideways on the road, just as the train reaches the crossing. The car stops, literally less than four inches from the moving train. I look up and see the engineer.  He is holding the cable, sounding the horn.  We lock eyes. I see the look on his face – it says, “Stupid kid!  You were lucky this time…” Now I hear the horn just fine.

I wonder how many times he has worried about hitting some car at a crossing.  Something tells me it would not be a pleasant event.  Maybe I don’t want to be a train engineer after I grow up after all.

I made it to school, shaken, but alive.  A little wiser, too.  To this day, I always look before crossing railroads.  Or any other intersections for that matter.

Occasionally, I will hear “Our House” playing on the radio.  Each time since that morning in 1971 when I do hear the song, I always see the train engineer’s eyes.


© 2010 J. Clark

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5 Responses to Music

  1. Jeanne says:

    Just how many of those nine lives do you have left? We had three of our high school girls killed at a train crossing in the mid 80’s, left the one that survived wondering why she did. Same scenerio, loud music plus chatty girls, in this case = distracted driver. Much like the many distracted drivers out there today with cell phones. Be careful out there on and above the ground.

  2. Joe Clark says:

    Sometimes I wonder how many of my lives I have used. I think probably about eight – so I am being very careful these days. When Ardy & I went through high school (yes, we have known each other that long!) we had a football coach who doubled as a drivers’ ed instructor. He pounded the idea that we cannot beat a train across the tracks. “The train will always win,” he would say. Then in my junior year, he reinforced the lesson by trying to beat a train across a railroad crossing. He was right, the train won.

  3. flyinggma says:

    That’s a tough lesson for kids to observe and learn from. They just installed light rail in the Twin Cities area a few years ago and there are more train accidents because people aren’t used to them being there especially in the downtown area. It can be very confusing about where you should drive.

  4. Joe, everytime I see a Corvair, I think of your mother. She is the only person I have ever known who owned a Corvair. If you were driving the Corvair that morning, you are incredibly lucky.

  5. Joe Clark says:

    Hi, Gilbert. You remember our Corvair?  You have an incredible memory!  This actually happened in the car that followed the Corsair, a Plymouth station wagon. Regardless of the vehicle, I was incredibly lucky! Ardis says my guardian angels have been working overtime all my life.  She may have something there.

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