Donna Ulisse

Singer, Songwriter, Bluegrass Poet

#7...All Aboard!

Those summer months were magical to this girl. One time, for a complete surprise, my grandmother Bonna purchased train tickets for me and my two cousins, Ann Carol and Tami, traveling from Newport News, Virginia to the Richmond station. WOW! Was that ever an adventure. My grandfather, Pop worked for the C&O Railroad for fifty years so I imagine the ticket price was! I remember feeling so grown up with our pink Barbie suitcases packed to the gills, climbing those two steps up into the train car. I am getting butterflies in my stomach this very second as I recall the sheer joy at such independence at the tender age of 10ish.

The three of us claimed two bench seats that faced each other and sat giggling and craning our necks to look out the window at our pensive moms and dads, waving and waving like we were on a merry-go-round. We sat there waiting for the whistle to blow and the engine to start chugging. we go...! Now the butterflies are acrobats on a trampoline as we picked up speed, heading two hours down the track to Bonna and Pop's. My goodness, look at the three of us, all grins and pigtails and ready to take on the world.

Our parents gave each of us a whopping twenty dollar bill; all the money in the world crammed in our polka dot handbags burning a hole right through our Holly Hobby wallets. I sat there wondering what shopping was going to be like with my OWN spending money.'s different when it comes out of my might not be as easy to let go of. I'll have to get something important with it like the Donny Osmond 45 record "Puppy Love". That would be cool...

After a million stops along the way it was finally announced that we would be pulling into the Richmond station. I was so excited that I was near to throwing up the cokes and cookies we splurged on. The vision of my grandparents standing on the outside of the train, looking for us on that platform is still so vivid in my mind. What I'd give to have that massive hug from them one more time. They looked so happy to see us, like we had journeyed from Africa or somewhere very far away and not just down the road a piece. In fact, I'm pretty sure we were at my Bonna and Pop's house the previous Sunday for the big dinner gathering.

After we settled in for our two week stay we started the process of destroying my Bonna's house. Love her heart, she never minded Barbie houses set up in every available space in her living room. Our clothes were promptly tossed around the one guest room she had. There might have been a little bickering between us gals but nothing we couldn't work through by using the old..."BONNA, TAMI JUST CALLED ME A NAME, ANN CAROL JUST PULLED MY HAIR! She had to be the most patient woman on the planet and I loved her well!

My cousins made the two weeks fun and I said goodbye to them when my mom came for a visit and took them home. I always stayed for at least six weeks of every summer with Bonna and Pop. I don't have a summer memory that doesn't have them in it. They are still summertime to me and I am sure I'll cover more of those school breaks on this writing journey that I am now bound to complete.