The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 11 (March 1, 1929)
When Children take the Train — Wonder and Romance
A child's eyes, those clear wells of undefiled thought—what on earth can be more beautiful? Full of hope, love and curiosity, they meet your own… In joy, how sparkling; in sympathy, how tender!—Mrs. Norton.
IHave for many months been a constant and interested reader of the New Zealand Railways Magazine, which is available at my local library. A perusal of the special monthly feature page “By Those Who Like Us” convinces one that the service which the railways place at the disposal of the freighter and passenger to-day is indeed of a high order of efficiency, and that the railways generally, are becoming more popular than ever. Popular they assuredly are, and always have been, so far as the children are concerned, and the fascination they hold for the child mind is one of the most interesting facts of child psychology. Railway trains have an unmistakable, a profound interest for the little ones, and no pleasure for them can compare with the pleasure of a train ride.
I am acquainted very intimately with one wee tot (my daughter) aged three years, the acme of whose happiness it was recently to travel with her daddy “in the dark” all the way from Hamilton to Wanganui. What childish wonder, excitement, and anticipation, there was when the glad news of the impending trip was communicated to her! What persistency and consistency there was in asking questions innumerable about the big train! What curiosity and unabated interest there was when the tickets were being bought! With what tenacity did the little hand hold mine before the arrival of the Limited Express at Frankton Junction! What a wonderful sight for childish eyes when the train, drawn by one of our finest locomotives with its brilliant electric headlight piercing the darkness, came thundering up to the station platform!
In the midst of it all I felt like a child again! And what delight there was “helping daddy” to look for a seat in the “lighted up” carriages!
A seat was duly found in a first-class compartment, and, almost immediately, the little one made it her “very own” and commenced to familiarise herself with the chief features of her new environment. Wonder followed wonder in quick succession. Her excitement knew no bounds when all the commotion preparatory to the train's departure was borne in upon her little ears. Then, “ting-a-ling-a-ling” went the station bell, a shrill whistle from the guard and engine followed, and then … “We're going, daddy!”
As the train pulled out of Frankton station the child's ecstacy can better be imagined than described. It was the greatest adventure of her young life. She stood up on the seat nearest the window, and, after gazing out for a few moments, informed me with unforgetable childish glee that she “liked watching the dark!” Everything was new, and strange and wonderful. She “watched the dark” and the lights along the wayside. Every incident of the journey—especially the roar of trains passing on an adjacent line—was, for her, a prodigious event.
Not desiring the child to become unduly excited, I decided, after leaving Te Kuiti station to arrange my travelling rug and cushion upon the end seat of the carriage and put her down page 41 to sleep—with the assurance that I would awaken her in due time.
However, she had not been in the comfortable little bed more than five minutes when she sat up, and in a plaintiff voice said: “Daddy, may I get up and look out of the window? I've been asleep!” If ever there was an enthusiastic and fully appreciative railway traveller this wee tot was that, and more. Rail travel is an experience of great interest to children the world over. They love riding in railway trains.
However, my little charge was at last getting sleepy. She had had a long and wonderful day of anticipation and of realisation, and at last sleep commenced to consume her, the “click, click” of the wheels passing over the rails being a sweet lullaby. Although it was a very cold night in mid-winter the child slept peacefully because good radiation from the steam-heated pipes kept the carriage delightfully warm.
Arriving at Marton Junction (it now being early morning) and having some few minutes to wait for the Wanganui train, I, with my wee travelling companion (her little heart still pulsating with the excitement of the railway), sought out the refreshment room on the station platform. Here she was seated before a warm fire and given a glass of hot milk and buns.
Some Of The Department'S Future Craftsmen.
(Photo. J. D. I'Anson, Addington.) A group of apprentices employed in the Car and Wagon Department at Addington Workshops. The above apprentices recently completed a competition in joinery (held under the supervision of Mr. R. Moore, General Foreman), and were complimented on the high standard of their work.
But the Wanganui train was calling her, and it was a supremely happy and contented child who hurried me along the platform to “the big train.” It was now breaking day, and my little companion was ready for another adventure. The train had not travelled far from Marton Junction before I was requested to open the window for her. The short journey from Marton Junction to Wanganui was surely an epoch in the life of this child! She experienced the keenest delight along every mile of the line—the children at wayside stations, the animals in the paddocks, the engines hauling the train over the heavy grades near Turakina, all holding for her the utmost interest and fascination.
Eventually we arrived at Wanganui, and, behold, I was confronted with the query: “Daddy, how long before we go in the train again…. I love the big train, don't you, daddy?” Long live children and railway trains!
“Ah! what would the world be to us
If the children were no more?
We should dread the desert behind us
Worse than the dark before.”