December 7, 2008

SOMETHING INSIDE RESPONDS:

A railroad journey into the past: Pearl Harbor commemoration train brings out memories of the attack on Dec. 7, 1941, that transformed America. (VIK JOLLY, 12/06/08, The Orange County Register)

The restored train car lurches forward. It clatters and creaks.

An actor does Lou Costello. In the last working barbershop on a train, Earl Nickles of Santa Ana posts his state barber's license on the mirror and arranges the tools of his trade on the counter – Bay Rum, hair tonic, Osage rub, Clubman's Special Reserve aftershave cologne, Lilac aftershave lotion.

A World War II Air Force veteran tells a bit of his story. A Pearl Harbor survivor speaks of the day of the attack.

An announcer rattles off key dates from 1941. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by the Andrews Sisters went on sale in January. The USO – which Helwig joined – was founded in February. Construction of the new Department of Defense headquarters, the Pentagon, started in September. "String of Pearls," a new Glenn Miller tune, was released in November. Pearl Harbor was struck in December. [...]

Now she sits in this railroad club lounge hitched to an Amtrak train, a commemorative World War II-themed car owned by Bill and Debbie Hatrick and run by L.A. Rail, a consortium of five private rail car owners.

She was told to show up Saturday at the Anaheim train station by an organizer of the St. Paul's Lutheran Seniors and Friends Group from Garden Grove. The excursion that would take her to San Diego and back, along with 35 other members of the group, was a pleasant surprise.

"When I walked in here, it just did something inside of me," Helwig says. "Every once in a while it's nice to remember when we were all young."

To ride and to learn more about the L.A. Rail consortium, which runs the Pearl Harbor Day Troop Train, visit www.larail.com.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 7, 2008 9:20 AM
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