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The Last Hoorah
Episode #10 (Updated July 10, 2017)
by Charles Reuben
Edited by Linda Schwebke
Click here to start from the beginning

The photos shown below were created by Dave Niblack of imagebase.net. These photos are not related to the story. Dave's photos are here to add some much needed color to my gray text: Thanks for your support, Dave!

9:45 a.m. The Silver Star finally leaves Jacksonville, a place of refueling, baggage transfer, and connections. Such service stops, with their inordinate delays, are a nice time to change clothes and practice personal hygiene.

The bathroom lacks a clothes hook, so I use the handicap rail to keep my clothes off the floor. I am learning to use one hand to regulate the water when I wash up, so I will not scald myself. I also use, to great advantage, pre-moistened antibacterial wipes to clean my body before applying deodorant.

The NASA space program has opened the floodgates of innovative things for the down-to-earth traveler. Between my juice containers, towelettes, butt wipes and other comforts, I’m feeling pretty good, all things considered.

My system of wearing old clothes and disposing of them after a day’s use is working wonderfully, and I’m watching my carry-on luggage reduce itself to a reasonable level. Before I throw out my underwear, I ceremoniously tear them up. That doesn’t take much effort since they are already threadbare and couldn’t stand another wash.

Unfortunately, I just mixed up a clean pair of underwear with a dirty pair and ripped the clean one to shreds. This oversight made me laugh hysterically, and now I’m beginning to question my sanity. Fortunately, I have another old pair of underwear in my carry-on.

I have plenty of brand-new silk underwear packed away in my bag so I’m not worried, and I issue a silent prayer, “Dear God, please look after that checked bag.”

The sun is shining brightly now, and I’m glad to have an aisle seat, allowing me to get up and roam the train without disturbing my companion. He is such a gentleman and so apologetic when he needs to get up. He strategically plans his exits when I go to the bathroom or the dining car.

The sky is bright blue, sprinkled with wisps of clouds and jet trails. We’re passing through a concrete factory, slowly switching from track to track. Running about an hour late, an hour I doubt we will make up. My health continues to be good and despite a little sniffle, I feel great. A bit tired of being on the train for such a long time but rested after a good night’s sleep.

I’ve noticed that the sleeping pills don’t knock me out as they did at first. But they do consistently relax me and get rid of anxiety. I move about in slow motion, my balance slightly affected, but that may have something to do with the train  moving around.

My stomach is feeling better now that I took one of Frida’s magic enzymatic digestive pills and I will forgo the prescription pills the doctor gave me. We are riding past deserted houses and factories and entering a dreary, rundown city.

If it were not for the sunny skies, this could be Chicago. But everything is tropical green, especially the lawns and backyards. Some trees lack leaves, but I guess they’re dead, or maybe some trees consider this to be winter. From my perspective, however, this looks like the middle of summer.

11:50 a.m.
 I just discovered a tiny bathroom across from the huge one that I dislike so much. No coat rack there either or changing table and the genius who designed this one made it so that the door opens inward, making it virtually impossible to get out.

Bathrooms are perhaps the most important part of train travel. And the amount of their square footage does not necessarily equate to a better bathroom experience, as the clever bathrooms in the Southwest Chief prove. It is really about using what little space there is to the  best advantage.

And that stinky toilet! It’s no better than a smelly outhouse. I did not notice the stink was that bad on the Southwest Chief. Perhaps the fact that this is a single level car has something to do with it. I don’t know. An idiot designed this train.

The only thing that impresses me thus far on this train is the décor of the dining room but I am somewhat concerned with the tight kitchen and the working conditions therein.

The lounge car is good for a promo shot in a glossy pamphlet but not appropriate for a train full of people. There are very limited places to lounge. And people stake out their seats and protect them with a vengeance. One plus is there are outlets at every seat, if you can find a seat.

I ended up eating the remainder of my food, an apple, a pear, and five Baby Bel cheeses,  in the vestibule between cars, much like I did when I traveled through Yugoslavia when I was 18 years old. I hope the cheese doesn’t make me sick. They were kind of warm, but since they were well wrapped in cellophane and wax, I might survive. Anyway, the conductor just busted me big time when he discovered me eating between trains and I had to leave and go back to my seat.

So, I will arrive in Hollywood at 6 p.m. instead of 4:30. Could be much worse I’m sure. Despite the fact I just devoured a healthy snack,  my stomach is grumbling for yet more food. Time to hit the dining car!

This marks the end of the TENTH installment of "The Last Hoorah." If you'd like to start from the beginning, then please click this page.

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