In the 1940s, my mother, sister and I took the trains to Boston at least three times per year to visit our aunt and uncle who lived in Lexington, Mass. Our trips were usually in February during school vacation, in April during school vacation or the Albanian Orthodox Easter, and in August during summer vacation.

The Maine Central Railroad train would leave Rockland at 8:05 a.m. and it was a must that we be at the station 15 minutes before departure to get our tickets and make sure our luggage would get on the right passenger car. The train trip to Boston took five and a half hours with a 15 minute stop in Portland. The cost of a one way fare was $4.

So come along with me as I recollect one of those trips. At the head of the train was MCRR steam locomotive number 402. Then there was a baggage car, a railway express-postal car and two passenger cars.

Before boarding the train, I walked up toward the locomotive in my curious way to see who the engineer was on this run. In this case, it was Jeff Mealy. As I waved my hand, Jeff who was a regular customer of our family store, Economy’s Fruit, saw me and tipped his cap, and shouted, “You taking this train?” As I nodded yes, his next question was, “How far are you going?” I would yell “Boston.” Jeff’s next comment would be, “I will take you to Portland kid,” as he waved back to me. As I started to skip back to the passenger cars, approaching the railway express car, I noticed a family friend Merv Harriman standing in the doorway of the car. “Going for a train ride today?” Merv would ask. Again I nodded and he smiled and waved to me.

Of the two passenger cars, the rear car was a through car to Boston. As we started to get on board, there was conductor Fred True standing next to the entrance and he started to shout “all aboard!”

The car was a 1920 Pullman vintage with twin globe ceiling lights and velour seats that would twist and turn so passengers could face each other in two seats. In the rear of the car was a small restroom, and next to it was a water fountain with paper cups.

On this particular trip, both passenger cars were only half full, so you could choose your own seats. My sister Virginia and I usually sat next to the window. My mother with her knitting would sit alongside one of us. I kept looking at my watch, and sure enough at 8:05 the train started to move and rumble up the rail yard toward our destination. The train stops to Portland were in this order: Thomaston, Warren, Waldoboro, Winslow Mills, Damariscotta Mills, Newcastle, Wiscasset, Woolwich, Bath, Brunswick, Freeport and Yarmouth. Average speed would be 45 mph. As the train moved along, viewing out the window was like taking a trip through the backyards of communities and viewing rural and seacoast Maine. One of the most memorable sights of the Rockland-Portland run was Wiscasset where you had a view of the ocean and going over the Bath Bridge and Kennebec River with Bath Iron Works in the foreground with all its anchored ships.

After the train arrived in Portland, our car would be uncoupled from the Portland train, and joined near the rear of the Boston and Maine express train, a nonstop run to Boston. During the Portland stop, a concessionaire would board the car with a cart selling sandwiches, cold drinks, potato chips, ice cream and pastries. You normally would have a choice of egg salad, ham salad, ham and cheese, and sliced turkey sandwiches, and lemonade, orangeade, cola and milk to drink. Pastry products would consist of doughnuts, turnovers, cream rolls, whoopie pies and brownies.

The Portland station was a magnificent station. It had a large tower with a clock, waiting room, restaurant, and restrooms. There were about six tracks under a dome roof with incoming and outgoing trains.

The Boston and Maine train would feature eight cars in all. It was pulled by a powerful steam locomotive, number 564. There were two baggage cars, a railway express-postal car and five other cars. The lead car was a club car featuring dining and beverages. And then there were four passenger cars. The average speed on the Portland-Boston run was 60 mph. After the conductor said “all aboard, next stop is Boston,” the train started to move slowly and gradually picked up speed. As I looked out the window of the rail yards and the buildings of Portland, I felt excited with the speed of the train as it whizzed by Maine depots and the cities of Biddeford-Saco, and then Maine’s most popular tourist area, Old Orchard Beach with its carnival rides in the background. Then on to Kennebunk and Wells, the last two Maine depots. The train headed north to Dover, N.H., where it roared through the middle of town with its steam whistle blowing and headed to the southern portion of countryside New Hampshire and toward the Massachusetts border. I noticed that we had passed Haverhill and all of a sudden there were the bricks of the Lawrence Mills.

The conductor would come down the aisles of the passenger cars and speak in a high voice: “Boston coming up in 30 minutes, club car closing in 20 minutes.” This would give you plenty of time to gather your belongings and luggage, even time for that last snack before reaching Boston. As we approached North Station in Boston, the tracks widened, with other passenger trains coming and leaving the station. When the train stopped, we got our luggage with the help of a porter, and got off the car where the conductor was standing to help passengers off. As I jumped from the steps to the ground, I said to the conductor “nice ride” and he smiled back to me with a “thanks.”

As we walked down the ramp toward the entrance of North Station, there was my uncle waiting to greet us and give us a ride to his home in Lexington.

I turned and looked back to the rail yard, and my first thought was I could not wait for the return trip to Rockland.

Terry Economy was born in Rockland. He graduated from Rockland High School and has had a long career in broadcasting, and is a member of the Maine Broadcasters Hall of Fame.