MY CHRISTMAS TRAIN TRAVEL (1956)-- by John Seaton and shared by Kate Seaton
In December 1956, as an Air Force Aviation Cadet, I was stationed at Reese Air Force Base, Lubbock, Texas. We had leave for Christmas, and I was traveling home to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to be with my Mom and Dad for the holidays.
I was traveling by train, and in those days train travel near Christmas was very, very crowded. All of the seats were filled before I got on the train for the Chicago to Harrisburg leg and some people were sitting on their luggage in the aisles. I was not looking forward to spending about 15 hours sitting on my luggage and started to look for a better solution. I discovered the pillow cabinet with five or six pillows left in it and had the best accommodations on the train for the rest of the trip.
On the return trip I had train reservations all the way through. However, when I got to Chicago I was informed otherwise. The only room on the train to Lubbock was in a pullman car. Only problem was it cost five dollars more than I had. I was trying to figure out what to do as I had to get back on schedule or I would be absent without leave (AWOL), a major problem in the military. I finally spotted another cadet that I recognized as one of our underclassmen and asked him if he could lend me five dollars until we got back to the base. He did, and I had a nice upgraded ride that also included a private bed with clean sheets and pillow.