The Train Ride
In the summer of 1978, I, along with my friend Dennis Morris, took the Empire Builder Amtrak train from Minneapolis out to Whitefish, Montana, to visit my sister Marian and hike in Glacier National Park. I was changing. Not long before I had resigned my position as recording secretary in the taxi driver's union, and was beginning to take the first steps of building a life for myself. I look at this picture of myself taken by Dennis on the train, smiling and having a good time, and I feel the load I carried around on my shoulders for years sloughing away. I was enjoying life. A few months later I started Vo-Tech school in land surveying, and shortly thereafter quit cab driving for good.
Dennis was a real friend, but Marian met him first some years before, when Dennis and his friend Ray were idling away the days back in the woods in Glacier, fishing and eating up a big bag of rice. I'm not sure when I first met Dennis, but probably in 1973 when Marian and I lived together in the old house on 30th Avenue South in Minneapolis, with Dennis showing up in his van for a visit, coming from Detroit, where he then lived, for a visit.
Dennis always had a laugh and a smile, and would do just about anything for you as a friend: he was much more generous than I. He moved from Detroit to Minneapolis in 1975, just before the taxi strike, and even though he never drove cab himself, he worked as hard for the taxi union as anyone.
Lose your airline tickets? No problem! Lose you Amtrak tickets? Big problem! No refunds, no nothing. You are of luck. About a year before I had joined the Book-Of-The-Month club, and had selected the entire Will Durant History of Civilization, about 3 feet of fat books on the shelf, as my premium. It's a long 24 hour train ride from Minneapolis to Whitefish, and I was wading through one of them on the train. I'm pointing on the luggage rack where I put the book, with the tickets inside it as a bookmark, before trying to sleep in my seat. In the morning the book was there but the tickets were gone. No amount of begging and pleading with Amtrack produced replacement tickets for the return trip. I remember Dennis finally bought another ticket and returned by himself.
I am not sure how I got back to Minneapolis, but I know it wasn't on the train. I was too poor for that. I remember riding back from Montana to Minneapolis with a couple of freaks in their step van on one of my trips, and it may have been this one. If not I hitchhiked it, which I did many times.