Monday, November 26, 2012

Sights and Sounds: 1958 to 1961 - Marlene, 72

During my three years of nurse's training, I went home to New Castle almost every weekend.  I loved the train travel from the P and LE station downtown.  First it was the twenty-five cent bus ride into town from the nurse's home in Bloomfield, then a ten cent ride on the streetcar to the train station that seemed the size of a football field.  The huge thick walnut doors, long hard wooden benches, and dirty white tile, littered floor was not a pretty sight.  The high ceiling windows were all painted black, a leftover from the war.

After buying my five dollar ticket, I would quickly board the train and find an empty seat.  I loved to look around at all of the different passengers.  Some were workers with their briefcases; others were shoppers carrying packages.  The train was always full of interesting people.  Once in a while, if I had any extra money, I would go into the dining car for a special treat.  I felt so important to sit at a white linen table with fresh flowers and enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry served on pretty china.  This would set me back fifty cents.

Soon the conductor would start shouting out the different stops—first was Beaver, followed by Beaver Falls, Wampum, and finally New Castle.  I thought about all of the workers on the train and how they were so lucky to use this commuter every day to work in Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately, the train station closed one day, and that was the end of the train commuters.  The station is still impressive as an upscale restaurant called the Grand Concourse.  The black paint has been removed from the ceiling windows, brightening the original white tile floor, and all of the massive wooden doors have remained intact.  I marvel at the transformation of the old train station, and at the same time I feel a loss for an efficient form of transportation that benefited a multitude of commuters.

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