|Retiro - Buenos Aires
Since I have a memory for anything I can remember the trains of my life. As a little boy my father and my mother (or my grandmother) would take me on a train from the station in Martínez and later Coghlan to the cavernous downtown Retiro Station. From there, without leaving the station, we took the escalators down to the subte (the subway) to the Lavalle Station that had two blocks of movie theaters to movie theaters.
From kindergarten on my mother and I boarded the train to Belgrano R where her American High School was. It was not far from my grammar school.
When I returned to Buenos Aires for my military service in the Argentine Navy in 1965 I lived on a pension in the Beccar Station. This train and all the above where on the line of Bartolomé Mitre.
When I arrived at Retiro from Beccar I had made friends with the station master who would write me a letter saying that my train had arrive 45 minutes late. I would then retire to have a desayuno complete in the lovely Retiro Station tea room. Cabo Moraña at the office would smile when I arrived late. I am sure he suspected of my triquiñuela but he was a good guy even though he was in the more serious Infantes de Marina (Marine Corps).
In Mexico I remember that Rosemary went on a train to Oaxaca and the curves made me very dizzy.
In Vancouver I had no real experience in riding trains. I liked to go to the downtown CP Station and I would sit on a bench and imagine my grandmother, my mother, aunt and uncle crossing it on their way to Montreal and NY City. They had arrived in the late 20s in a Japanese ship from Manila. My grandmother often told me of “Un lugar con montañas y bosques llamado Vancoover.”
In my contract job for Canadian Pacific Ltd. I photographed tons of cargo trains, locomotives and cars, and even the last caboose that arrived in Vancouver. CP wanted to give as gifts large photographs of a train crossing a bridge over a river surrounded by mountains, forests, the Japanese car companies. I found a location near Lytton where the CP tracks crossed from one side of the Fraser Canyon to the other. I was given a walkie talkie and for a few minutes I had the power to stop a train informing the engineer when the Toyotas, Datsuns or Mazdas where visible on the bridge.
A lasting memory of mine is seeing the many white morning glories that grew along the side of the tracks of the Buenos Aires trains. I also remember that the ticket man had a personal punch, all his own, when he punched my ticket. I can remember the smell of a combination of train brake linings, rust and a tad of human urine. It was at the Belgrano R station where I got off one day, sometime in 195, when I saw my first sign at a drink post advertising 7-Up.
Now at my age of 80 when I turn off the lights, and when I dream, I have visions of all the people from my past that somehow I met, knew, loved and liked. They appear randomly in my memory. It could be my grandmother or my childhood friend Mario, or my Vancouver friends Sean Rossiter, Mark Budgen and Abraham Rogatnick. I remember my friends and mentors, Brothers of Holy Cross in Austin, Texas. I remember all the writers I worked with for Vancouver Magazine. I even remember their voices. I have visions of all the girls I admired but was too shy to approach parade by my memory. I remember all the cats that Rosemary and I had.
These memories are fleeting and they remind me of a Star Trek episode The Mark of Gideon that Rosemary and I saw in Mexico City on our primitive TV in 1970. In it the Enterprise arrives at an overpopulated planet. I have this lasting obsessive vision of Captain James Tiberius Kirk being in a room with a window. Behind the window was an unceasing parade of people in hoods that had to move as there was no place to stay.
This vision contrasts with another dream I have. I get on my train in Coghlan on route to Retiro. At each station people get off. When my train arrives at Retiro I am the only passenger.