Tuesday, February 17, 2015
GRANDMOTHER OLIVE TELLS OF THEIR TRIP TO FLORIDA - PART 2
When we got on our train from Penn Central to Florida, we were taken to our sleeping room. Now, it has been a long time since I had been on a train with sleeping quarters. I thought it was funny they were leading us to our sleeping room when it was a long time until sleeping time. The days I remember the sleeping room were bunk beds with a chair in the room. You went in there at bed times, not during the days. In the old days, you had just enough room to change into your bed clothes and had to go down the hall to wash up and go to the rest room. Not anymore. Those days are long over.
I also didn't know that there are several different sleeping rooms that you can select from. So sure that I wouldn't go, Albert selected the room. Actually Albert, David and Elmer selected the room. They thought I would like it. I didn't. The first room had the beautiful recliner chairs that are in the passenger section. The seats were across from each other, next to the window, with a pull down table in between. There was a tiny closet in the room. The sink to wash in, pulled down. When you were done it folded back up. The one thing that upset me is that there was a chair - you lifted the top and it was the toilet. I didn't want a toilet like that. In order to go to the toilet you had to close the drapes on the isle side.
Albert told me that when you went to the potty, you put the top down, stepped on the flush and it was all gone. I said no toilet in the same area we slept. Albert told me that before we had in door plumbing we had to go outside or have a port-a-potty in our room and that didn't bother me. I said that was then and this is now. He said some sleeping rooms didn't have any bathrooms - you had to walk down the hall. It was only for one night. I said I would rather do that than to close the door, the drapes and use the potty. Poor Albert didn't know what to do with me.
Our Porter (now called Sleeper Attendant) wanted to know if there was a problem. Albert explained my unhappiness with the room. He went and got another man. We found out later that the first man was in training for the job. The second man was training him. We were asked to stay where we were until the train got moving and he would see if he could do anything for us.
The train started moving and he was back. He asked us to follow him, which we did. We went through the dining room car to another car, down the end to another room. He opened the door and asked me to look around, showing us all the things in this room including an enclosed bathroom and shower. It passed my inspection. He sent the other Porter down to our room to get our luggage. The older Porter explained because of the cancellation the day before, they had to add on an extra sleeping car. He had to make sure that this room wasn't promised out to someone at our stops along the way before he could let us have it. It wasn't.
The rooms on the trains are small. The first one was 6 feet 6 inches by 3 feet 6 inches. Our new room was 7 feet 6 inches by 6 feet 6 inches, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it was comfortable for Albert and I, in this room. As you went into the room on the left side was a couch. It was along side the wall. In front of the couch was a table that you could pull down. Above the couch were all sorts of buttons and knobs. One was for light. Another for music. Another to call the porter. Another to control the heat or air in the room. There was even one for drying your hair. On the right wall was the restroom with the toilet and shower - it had door on it for privacy. Next to that toward the door was the sink and mirror to wash your hands.
Above the couch was a pull down bed. The couch turned into a 3/4 bed and the pull down was a half bed. Albert and I tried to sleep on the couch at night, but sometime during the night, Albert called the Porter to pull down the upper bed because that is where I found Albert in the morning.
There are drapes that close over the door you come in on as there is another room across the hall. The drapes also close across the windows. What is funny is that you can lock the room from the inside, but you can't lock it from the outside. We were told was so the Porter could get into our room to pull down the bed and clean the room.
On the sleeper section, you are treated like a king and queen. Our meals were included when Albert booked the sleeper room. Also you get the newspaper. What really surprised me was that Albert and I both took showers before dinner. When we came back to our room after dinner, the bathroom was spotless - not that we made a mess. The shower was all dry. All the towels and soap we used replaced.
Dinner time came and we went into the dining room car. Each of the tables can seat four people. There was a row of these seats on one side of the car and on the other side of the car. Along with Englishers there were two Old Order Mennonite couples on there and an Amish couple. We all ended up sitting together. You can sit wherever you want, but we all decided to sit together. The other Mennonites and the Amish were like us - had been cancelled the day before. They were from Canada and also heading to Pinecraft. So here we all were. One of the Mennonites had a room just like ours across from us. The other two couples had different sleeping rooms. They also said that there were a few more of them up in the passenger section - who didn't rent sleeping rooms.
In the dining room you select from the menu. You are waited on just like a restaurant. They cook the meal and bring to you at the table. We enjoyed talking with the people. The meal was delicious. What is another funny thing is that some left tips and some didn't. Albert, of course, did. One couple said for all they paid for the trip and sleeping room, they shouldn't have to tip. Well, no where do you HAVE to tip. We felt our waiter deserved a tip as did our Porters. Different views for different people, I guess.
After dinner Albert and I took a short walk through part of the train. We through the dining room, through the second sleeping quarters into the one of the passenger cars. On the way back, we found the place of coffee that they have in the back of both the sleeping cars. Also, we ran into the Porter where I apologized for such a hard time over the room. They said it was fine. When the new fellow went to answer one of the rooms ring, we talked with the other Porter. He said it worked out because they added the second sleeping car and this room wasn't taken. It doesn't always work that way. He suggested that Albert give him our tickets in the morning and he would change the sleeping room on our return so it was like the room we have. I asked how much it would cost for the larger room. Albert said it didn't matter as long as I was happy.
The Porter training the other one is going to get off in Florida and spend some time with his family. He is from Florida, has been a Porter for many years and really likes his work. He said we did not give them a hard time over the room, but some people are not happy no matter what you give them. Most people are nice, but every once in a while there are some they could so without. We found he was Baptist and a religious man. He enjoyed his work. Also, he told us the sleeping rooms must be kept in excellent condition and taken care of. There are regular unannouced inspections.
I said I saw coffee, but no tea. He said he would bring some down to our room and to let him know when we wanted our bed turned down. We went back to our room and had just gotten the Bible out for reading and prayer when he arrived with my tea. I thanked him and asked him to join our prayer. He said he would, but he had to work to do right then - getting peoples rooms ready for sleeping.
I drank my tea as Albert read and we prayed.
I am trying to think what to ad. There is no smoking allowed on the train. You can only smoke off the train when it stops at a station. Sometimes they stop for an hour and sometimes just 10 minutes. There were no televisions on the train although there was plug in our room for computer or maybe some kind of small TV.
The next morning, we found the paper outside our door. We went to the dining room for both breakfast and lunch. If we had wanted, we could have ordered from the menu ahead and it could have been brought to our room. When we came back to our room after breakfast the top bed was folded up and the lower bed was back as a couch. All the towels, and soaps had been replaced in the bathroom and sink. All trash was emptied and the room was spotless.
Albert did have the Porter take our tickets and have the return sleeping room changed so we would have the room we had now. There was no charge for changing rooms coming to Florida, as it was vacant, but our room price went up a bit going back. It was for the upper class room. We paid the additional at the station in Tampa so we are all set when we return. It was a little sad saying good by to the Porters. They said you never know - we may meet again on the track.
I really wanted to get to Pinecraft, but I liked riding on the train. In a way, I wish we could have kept going. Albert said maybe we could go on another trip in warmer months, where we stayed on the train longer. We liked looking out the windows and seeing the country go by. The service of the Porters, waitresses and waiters was excellent.
Our driver was waiting for us when we arrived at Tampa. We had never met this driver before, but he said everyone else was going to the bus and we were standing there, so he figured we were his passengers and was correct. He loaded in the luggage and off we went. As you know, we arrived at Pinecraft close to 6:00 PM. We got there before the bus did. John, Elmer's son and his friend were waiting for us and took our luggage to our cottage. They advised us that Bishop Eli's Mother and Step-Father were holding dinner until we got there. Albert and I quickly cleaned up, changed clothes and got there for dinner. Everyone was glad to great us and we them.
So that is our story on our trip to Florida. Maybe next week, I will tell you about the cottage we rented, if anyone is interested.
Be With God,