The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed my father Keith at my house. Keith was about 35 when this incident occurred. Keith is now a more experienced and more cautious 60-year-old man. This memory is important to him because he said it was the scariest thing that ever happened to him and he thought he, his friend Barry, and his two sons were all going to be killed by a train on that bridge.

It was a hot and humid summer morning in Southern Pennsylvania and Keith found himself walking the Rail Trail with his two young sons, Nick and Doug, and his longtime friend, Barry.

“How’s work going?” Keith asked Barry as they walked along.

“Nothing’s really changed since you left,” Barry said. “Mike is still in charge and there have been a few new hires but that’s about it.”

Barry and Keith watched as Doug and Nick ran ahead, looking for snakes, toads, insects, and any other living creatures they could find.

“Don’t go too far ahead,” Keith yelled ahead to his sons. “There’s lots of monsters in the woods and you don’t want to be their next snack!” Nick and Doug quickly ran back to Keith and Barry and the four of them continued along the train tracks on their morning stroll. They came upon a bridge and walked to the center of it.

 “Hey Nick, Doug, come look at the river below,” Keith told his sons. Keith, Barry, and the two boys stood at the side of the bridge for a few moments looking down below at the river and all of the life it housed. “Dad, this would be such a cool place to go fishing wouldn’t it be?” Nick asked his dad. “It sure would be, maybe next weekend we can come back and fish from the shore below,” Keith replied.

Suddenly, the sound of a train horn pierced the air. “Oh no,” Barry whispered. They could see the train quickly approaching and panic suddenly filled Keith’s body. The train track crossed the bridge and there was not much space on either side of the tracks. To make it worse, Keith, Barry, and the boys were right in the middle of the bridge and didn’t have time to run forward off the bridge and escape into the woods.

Keith grabbed Nick and Doug and pushed them as hard against the side of the bridge as he could. “DON’T MOVE, OKAY?” Keith frantically yelled at his sons. Keith and Barry quickly pressed their bodies against the side of the bridge, with Keith keeping Doug pushed back against the side with his right arm and Barry keeping Nick pushed back with his left arm. Keith closed his eyes, praying this wasn’t the end of him, his friend, and his sons. A strong gust of wind hit the four of them as the train flew by. Keith opened his eyes just long enough to see the train was about three inches away from him. He felt like his heart was going to beat out of his chest. He closed his eyes again until he knew the train had passed.

 Cautiously, he opened his eyes and looked at his sons, then at Barry. “I think it’s time to go home,” Keith said, his voice shaking. The four of them walked back to the car in silence. 

The Train

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1990s
The Rail Trail

I interviewed my father Keith at my house. Keith was about 35 when this incident occurred. Keith is now a more experienced and more cautious 60-year-old man. This memory is important to him because he said it was the scariest thing that ever happened to him and he thought he, his friend Barry, and his two sons were all going to be killed by a train on that bridge.

Tags: train, #railtrail
Decade: 1990s
Rating:
Recorded by Kelli Snyder on December 10, 2017
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