My attraction to the railroad started when I was very young, my father lived behind Twin Oaks autorack/holy roller yard in Pa. We used to walk the tracks to fishing spots, and down to a local general store to buy yoo-hoos and candy, the highlight for me was to collect loose spikes during our walks. I had all but forgotten about freight trains and train tracks until my late teenage years when I met a few kids from north of Philadelphia that had train yards near their house, we used to go in those yards every weekend taking pics, scribbling, and painting. There was an unforgettable feeling about being so small and climbing about these huge steel train cars that swayed and squeaked, in hinesite it was very dangerous and we had no regard for train safety and the hazards that we were exposing ourselves to. These weekends sparked a love for trains and train culture that still lives with me today, we would venture to new train spots and lines for different reasons years after, but one thing stands out that pertains to this post in particular. One of the first times we went in to the train yard my friend Nick started running alongside the moving car and he grabbed the ladder and jumped up on the moving line and rode the cars for about a half mile then jumped off, right after that my friend Jeff runs along and follows suite, well peer pressure himself pushed me to start running and jump up on the moving line as well....before I knew it I was hanging off the side of a rolling freight train with no idea how to get off...........I learned quick before that train got to hauling a$$ to jump the efff off now or never, well at least not till the next time the train stopped in god knows where. The thrill was one I will never forget. During a dinner a few weeks back I ran into an older gentleman who was wearing a custom made airbrushed satin coat with a "Pennsy" Locomotive on the back. We got to talking and he told me he was a retired railman, and that he collected tramp art and tramp boxes in particular. He used to trade and buy the boxes from traveling hobos or even other rail workers that had taken an interest in the outsider artform. This American folklore of tramp and hobo art goes unnoticed to most, but to those that are in the know they are very passionate and in fact these art forms have deep american roots mostly back to the great depression and wartime eras.
Before Kneesinthebreeze even became a brakeman for the railroad he always wanted to spend a summer traveling the country by trainhopping....Well, times have changed and we have diapers to change, but one day maybe when we are retired we can pack a backpack with a few belongings and trainhop across the country with our knees dangling in the breeze from an open center door on a boxcar!