Friday, December 22, 2006

People Get Ready, There's a Train Commin'


People get ready, there's a train comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket you just thank the lord

Those words of Curtis Mayfield sung by the Impressions came to mind when we pulled into the station at Yemassee Junction. We came for this mural, but we took in a little more. The trains still run right past this point on a daily basis. The tracks aren't fifty feet from this building which was previously used as a receiving station for Marine recruits to Paris Island. Fresh off the train, they'd assemble in this small building and some not very shy or retiring Marine Sergeant would greet the boys in a way which must have made them wonder why they ever got off that train.

For some Marine recruits this would have been a one way ticket to wars from which far too few ever returned. For some veterans who survived, this spot may well have become a fond memory, that first step into the Corps and that long campaign to hell and back. It even found a place in Marine chants during basic training:
Beautiful Beaufort by the sea,
Twenty-six miles from Yemassee.

The train has been used as a metaphor in countless ways. When they say that the train has left the station, they mean that you have missed the boat. In its current incarnation this building serves The Holy Temple Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, INC., of the Apostolic Faith. That church has chosen to leave the wonderful mural of the locomotive visible is probably not by accident. Mayfield used the train metaphor to make a strong statement of faith and to challenge the faithful. A junction or crossroads is often used to mark the point at which one either turned away from or embraced the faith.

Trains became missions quite literally beginning around 1890 when organized churches began to lament the sin and sorrow of the American west. The folks in the East apparently felt safely saved, but sent brave missionaries on their errand into the wilderness of the Godless, sinful, suffering west. "Chapel Cars", as they were called, were attached to the regular trains and dispatched to not only press the faith, but to comfort the great human misery found along the way.

This train don't carry no gamblers
No whores nor midnight ramblers
This train don't pull no jokers
No cigarette smokers
This train is bound for glory,
Don't ride nothing but the holy.
This train is bound for glory, this train.


Anonymous joan said...

Perfect lyrics for this entry!

9:58 PM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Thanks for your kind comment. It's nice to have positive feedback.

One of our rules of the road is
This GT don't carry NO smokers.
This is not to say that it hasn't carried some jokers.

10:22 PM  

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