Train Trip to Atlanta

The Southern Railway ran a route passing through Fayetteville to Atlanta in the morning, coming back through Fayetteville in the late afternoon. When I was about four or five I went to Atlanta on this train and remember it very well.

Mother and I had seats on the left side of the passenger car. There was a water jug mounted on the far side near the back with a push button spout and a supply of small paper cups. Mother let me get some water before the train started moving, but I had to keep my seat for the rest of the trip. I remember our stopping at Kenwood to pick up passengers. I could see Carnes’ store that served as a kind of depot. I don’t recall any of the other stops but there were a few.

When we arrived in Atlanta we exited the train on to a broad ramp lined with fruit stands. Mother bought me a bag of California grapes (white grapes). These were the first I’d ever seen. They were sweet and had no seeds.

We walked from the ramp into the largest room I’d ever seen. Mother said this was “Terminal Station”. The ceiling seemed to go up to the sky. The walls were made of polished stone and marble. The room was filled with huge wooden benches where many people were seated. A loud speaker continually announced leaving and departing trains. There were large neon signs showing directions and naming ticket offices and restrooms. I went to the restroom with Mother. She had been holding my hand since we got off the train because she didn’t want me to get lost. I’d never seen a toilet like this. There were four or five sinks to wash your hands and a bunch of small toilet rooms each with its own potty. Most of them were free to use but there were a couple that required a dime to unlock the door.

We left the station and walked about a mile or two to some large department stores. Mother called them “dime stores”. In their basement was a large section of toys. Mother gave me a dime to spend. Most of the toys cost 5 or 10 cents. I surveyed the several long counters trying to decide if I wanted one large toy for 10¢ or two smaller ones for 5¢ each. I decided to buy two small toy soldiers.

We had lunch at the lunch counter in the store. We sat on tall stools with seats that rotated. Mother ordered me a boiled ham sandwich and a chocolate milk. The sandwich came with toasted bread which I’d never had before. This was the best food I’d ever had and I told all my friends about it when I got home.

Mother said we had time to see a movie. We walked up the street to the Lowes Grand Theater. This was some kind of “picture show”, much nicer than the tent shows I’d been to at home. We saw a “Shirley Temple “ movie. In one scene Shirley blew up a small paper bag and popped it. When we got back to Terminal Station we had to wait a short time for our train to be called. I had finally finished all of my California grapes and decided to try Shirley’s trick and pop my bag. Boy! What a bang! It echoed through the station. Mother scolded me but seemed to understand.

I was very tired and can’t remember much of the trip back. When we arrived in Fayetteville we walked from the depot across town to my daddy’s store on the courthouse square. He was glad to see us. I told him all about the trip and showed him the toy soldiers I’d bought.

The city had been exciting but I told Mother, ”It’s good to be back in good old clean Fayetteville”.