Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween in Mayberry 20037

There are things that your realtor does not tell you about the neighborhood when you buy a home. Trash pickup day and street sweeping are two firm examples. There are soft rules, like how late you may mow the lawn without disturbing the neighbors. In addition, every wood-framed craftsman home on the block flies an American flag.

As a young kid, my brother and I made trick-or-treat runs in Washington DC's Georgetown neighborhood. Walkable townhouses were filled with larger-than-life couples who enjoyed the door-ringing tradition. Yet, I came to realize, there are different ways for Halloween to be celebrated.

 I heard of exurban kids being driven door-to-door; but what about my new neighborhood in Norfolk, one that is coming through a time of transition? What was our protocol?  Do we trick-or-treat or not?

As the sun set, the neighborhood kids came out, some in costumes, others not. Some headed across our commercial drag to the brick houses with lawns. Theirs is the land of plenty. Trick-or-treating was in full swing over there. The others headed to church activities. Some Baptist communities do not practice Halloween, a fact that Jack Chick and his gas station pamphlets made clear.

One may think that a neighborhood on the upswing would rejuvenate the door-ringing practice. But the inertia of memories from a different decade- caution and fear- are hard. There is another reason: Vice Magazine described the decline of trick-or-treating in Washington DC's  gentrifying Logan Circle neighborhood. Empty-nesters stay home to dish out bowls of candy; Dual Income, No Kid couples have other plans for Halloween evening.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Short Trip on American Rail

Train 88, 6:15 am northbound departure from Norfolk

This morning, I scrambled to find winter clothes. I put on a long-forgotten jacket. Having spent the front half of the year straddling the Equator in Guam, I'd forgotten what "chilly" feels like. But here, straddling the North Carolina line, it's "Summer, Winter, Fall and Spring in one day", quipped a local acquaintance. It's marathon weather. Races in Norfolk and Washington, DC this weekend. Why drive? 

Park and ride at the Norfolk station. One track and platform, with a small and new waiting room. 200 feet from car to waiting train. Many empty seats now, but wait for Richmond, advised the conductor. The night is crisp, clear, dark, late like Autumn. I brought breakfast from home; having plenty, I gave away my orange juice.

One week ago, the National Weather Service recorded:
October 2, 2019, Norfolk Virginia: 93 F degrees near the oceanfront
October 3, 2019, Roanoke Virginia: 98 F degrees for a mountain cool

Crates of pumpkins appeared at the grocery and hardware store in balmy weather. It's that month: the prelude of the holidays season. Do 'they' keep pushing the holidays earlier, or had this been an endless summer? 

The train spent over an hour chugging through the rural woods of southern Virginia. In the City of Richmond, a brief change of scenery as the tracks runs in the median of Downtown Freeway. A few trains headed to Williamsburg serve the historic Richmond Main Street downtown station, but the city's main station is simple and suburban, serving all trains travelling north and south. Our train edges north to Randolph Macon college in Ashland. Isn't that swell? A college with an on-campus train station. The seats fill up.

The next four stops serve the southern suburbs of Washington, DC; the last of which is Alexandria, flanked by high-rises and the Metrorail line. Big city life as seen out the train window. Over the Potomac River, eager travelers muster their baggage, for arrival at Washington's Union Station occurs just a few minutes later. Stepping out of the coach, you hear the din of train movements, the hum of waiting commuter trains, station workers, the traffic over 'Hopscotch' bridge. You see gritty stone over a hundred years old, office buildings and luxury condos pressed against the tracks. The South, it seems, is now a distant memory. Now on the Northeast Corridor, Train 88 switches its diesel engine. for a high-speed electric locomotive.