Why Meet the Train?


My Dad loved to tell about the time he and his mother were rescued by his grandmother even though she didn’t know what she was doing.

My Dad and his parents had come over Unicoi Gap by wagon in 1888 when he was only two and had settled in Habersham County, Georgia, on a few acres named Pinedale by his mother. He loved it there and wanted to stay forever but because of his mother’s tuberculosis, they moved on even farther south below Augusta on the South Carolina border. They left Dad’s aunt, Delia, and his grandmother at Pinedale.

Dad was very homesick for the hills of Habersham. When he became sick with typhoid, he cried in a feverish state to go back home. His mother, though herself so far from well, insisted on taking her son to Pinedale. Her husband, my grandfather, reluctantly agreed to her trip since he was teaching school and couldn’t leave.

The train trip was very hard for her but her number one goal was to make her son comfortable and get him safely home. The closer the train chugged toward Cornelia the more she began to wonder: what would she do when she got there? Cornelia was still ten miles from home. It was a very hot day and her sick child could not even hold his head up and he was a big boy, almost as big at eight years old as she was.

At this point in his story my Dad would rub his hands together in anticipation of the best part and begin pacing as he finished.

Aunt De and Grandmother were at Pinedale taking care of things. One afternoon as they sat calmly tatting lace in their small cottage, Grandmother suddenly put her work down, stood and walked to the window, sat back down, then cleared her throat. “De, we have to go to the train station in Cornelia.”

“But, Mother, whatever for?”

“I don’t know. But we have to go.”

They had to borrow a horse and buggy from a neighbor and Aunt De fussed pretty severely, sure that her mother had eaten too many mushrooms or read too many penny novels.

When they arrived at the station, there was their Gracie and her feverish eight-year-old and both ladies understood why Grandmother had felt such a strong “hunch.”

Dad would always end his story by saying “And you can believe that ‘hunch’ of Grandmother’s was just a coincidence if you want to.”

I think Grandmother’s ‘hunch’ was, in today’s language, a “God thing.”

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