Who Helps Whom?

by Auntie Cathie
(Chicago IL USA)

Today is National Train Day and I was at the celebrations held in grand old Union Station Great Room just west of the train tracks in Chicago. There were so many exciting opportunities for us; the three of us are adventurers of a sort. We entered on the north from the parking lot across the street. That put us on the mezzanine level and we started hanging off the balcony to orient ourselves.

The booths were arranged around invisible circles so folks could visit with the vendors facing toward them. There were many fun displays and handouts. It was fun to think of trips to all the places that trains go nationwide. One expects those who run trains Metra and Amtrak, to show their wares along side those companies that make train parts.

More interesting were the working displays of model trains in various scales. Their suppliers, craftsmen of various kinds, had booths also. The was a booth for the railroad police who were showing video about the training of the K-9 dogs, who with their huge handlers patrolled both the showroom and the actual underground station. No muzzles on these working dogs either.

Another part of any exhibition is the people watching part. Our group of three adventurers were basically ancient retired school teachers who live near the urban area. There was a stroller parking lot, so many young parents had toddlers or infants in backpack like carriers attached to their backs or their fronts. The toddler group included a two year old in complete engineer outfit, but must just wore train hats and blew train whistlers. The line for train rides out to the switching yard and back was quite long.

Older men and women probably retired train employees talked about their experiences. But the must unforgettable site was another pair of women our age wearing skirts instead of the universal jeans most had on. We were sitting on the massive staircase when they came down. Like most visitors on the stairs they carried a stroller down. When they reached the show floor I got a good look at the beleaguered dog wearing a long sleeve striped tee shirt under his regulation service dog halter. They placed him ever so carefully in the stroller before heading out to enjoy the show.

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