It was late Summer of 63 and one of my school friends came over to spend the weekend with me. I lived near a warehouse where my daddy worked, and the train came every day to unload lumber and supplies. The loading door was even with the boxcar so workers could load and unload product.
The summer was almost over, and we were looking for an adventure. The conductor was comfortable seeing us around the boxcar and even let us ride with him from building to building. Our favorite thing that we did was put pennies or nickels on the tracks and when the train passed, we collected the very flat coins. We took advantage of that familiarity, and we hid behind some boxes thinking we would ride a short way down the tracks. We had explored the tracks and knew several places we could jump out before the train got far down the tracks.
The train was picking up speed and I could feel a bit of uncertainty about jumping out. The boxcar door was ten feet from the rails and the tracks were on a brim about three feet off the ground. Fear was setting in rapidly, and my heart was beating very fast. My friend was turning pale, and I thought he would be sick. We watched from the door as the brim got higher and the drawbridge over the Intercoastal Waterway got closer.
We both had backpacks since we were pretending to be on an adventure. We sat back against the boxes, pulled out our sandwiches and water from our canteens, eating quietly not knowing what to say. The clacking sound of the wheels was making it hard to stay awake. It was a frightening time for us as we knew that we were going to be in trouble. I always tried not to disappoint daddy, but I was positive he was not going to be happy about this adventure.
In the distance, I could see the train trestle bridge going into Conway and knew that once the train crossed the river, we would be able to jump down as the train came to a stop. My cousin lived just a few blocks down the road, and I knew that as soon as she saw me, she would call daddy. We walked a slow unhurried pace to her front door and rang the doorbell, waiting in a deep silence until we heard the door opening.
My cousin was not the quiet calm type and after ten minutes of non-stop yelling and letting us know what she thought of our adventure she told us to go to the kitchen and help ourselves to cream pie and milk. I had long ago concluded that pie and milk could fix most anything. I heard her on the phone with my daddy and thankfully daddy didn’t have much to say. I was more worried about what actions he might take.
Conway was fifteen miles from Myrtle Beach and traffic was bad on the weekends so I knew I had at least an hour before I would have to account for my little adventure. Without a doubt, it was fun riding in the boxcar, little did I know I would ride the rails many more times in my youth.
It was a long quiet ride in the backseat, no talking, no radio, and I was sure laughing would not be taken lightly. We couldn’t even look at each other and after he dropped my friend off we headed home. Daddy said he would not tell my mom what happened because she would get very upset. He asked me if I enjoyed the train ride and after I moment I said, “I did, and it was a great adventure.” Daddy smiled and asked me if he had ever told me about the time he stole granddaddy’s mule and rode it to the general store.
That was my first true adventure, and I knew with all my heart that there would be many more, more than I could have ever imagined.