The Summer The Monon Made It Snow In Kirklin

The snows were deeper then, the summers hotter. The memories dim as time progresses, but some remain forever.

Summers were probably the best times. There was no air conditioning but there were big, floppy ceiling fans in the drug store and there was a soda fountain. And in summer, school was out so I could visit my Uncle Clarence and Aunt Ethel in Kirklin, Indiana, located on the Monon Air Line between Indianapolis and Chicago.

Kirklin had no yards, no roundhouse and turntable, no interchanges with foreign roads. Even the station had been closed for years.

But what it did have, every evening, was The Hoosier Limited making its dash to the Windy City.

When I heard the whistle for the country grade crossing south of town, I knew if I jumped on my cousin’s bicycle, cut through the back of the church next door, and pedaled as fast as I could, I would make it, just in time to witness a Monon treat.

Drivers flashing, whistle screaming, she instantly blurred across the street. The hook came out of the baggage/RPO car and snatched the mail sack. The local bag flew out and bounded along the right of way. A glimpse was afforded of the passengers, particularly those in the heavyweight observation-lounge enjoying luxury beyond the range of my imagination.

Then one steamy evening the inevitable happened. The Kirklin mail bag bounced once, twice and a third time, right under the wheels of the cars. As I watched transfixed, despite the summer temperatures, it was snowing, paper everywhere!

There were few mail deliveries in Kirklin the next day.

A decade or so later, I was privileged to enjoy the luxury of The Hoosier Limited. It was all I could have imagined it to be, and more, a sleek streamliner. I was experiencing Kirklin from a different vantage point. I didn’t see the mail bag and, in fact, I nearly didn’t see Kirklin.

The tracks are gone now, but the memories of the “magic carpet made of steel” and the summer it snowed in Kirklin are indelibly imprinted.

-J. Mark Rhoads, San Diego, California-
Originally printed in The Hoosier Line, Vol 24 No. 3

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