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"The Rest of the Journey"
Submitted by Bill Bradfield

After arriving in Seattle on Thanksgiving Day, 1945, our little group was held at the Receiving Station (Fort Washington?) until a train load could be gathered. Eventually (and it took several days) we were bundled onto an eastbound train running, I believe, on the Northern Pacific road to Chicago. The train was a conglomeration of Pullmans and passenger cars, with what passed for a dining car in the middle. It was not the Broadway Limited with which I became familiar a few years later. However, it was headed EAST!

Since I carried the papers for our group, I was assigned to place the men aboard and finding a sleeping car already appropriated by two other “papers carriers”, I quickly joined them in luxury. We settled in after notifying our drafts of where we could be located, warning the men not to leave the train, and we went to sleep as quickly as possible.

The only really significant memory of the ride (excluding the non-stop poker game) was a train crew-change stop we made at about midnight, in a small Montana mountain town. I have tried for years to remember its name. It was a bone-cold night in November as we pulled into the station. The train slowed to a stop, we looked out and, to our surprise, saw a long row of tables set along the narrow platform by the tracks. Behind the tables stood a row of smiling ladies from the town, passing out cookies, cakes, milk and coffee to all the men. Homemade sweets and milk for free! At midnight with the temperature about 25 degrees!

These housewives told us they were notified whenever a “troop train” was coming in and prepared their tables, supplying the baked goods and purchasing the milk out of their own pockets.. They met each arriving train this way just to say thanks. We knew then that we were home!

What a contrast, only a few years later when our men returned from Korea and later again from Vietnam.



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