Nostalgia Leaves the Station
There are those who zero in on trains with a maniacal zeal. We've met some wonderful fellows in North Charleston who maintain what they call a railroad museum inside of which they operate hundreds of scale miles of tracks over which they dispatch their colorful authentic electric trains. They've done the research and embrace the lore in order to present a pageant for the railroad buff and an homage to the classic trains which are passing into history. The joy of nostalgia is part of the sadness of loss in this way.
We're drawn to trains, rail cars and old railroad equipment in the way most people find them interesting. The older and more eccentric the equipment, the more we enjoy such relics. Trains are central to our history and speak to the days of promise which seem behind us now.
When we encountered the red rail car at Port Royal, SC, we thought it an amusing bit of fun. Notice the window air conditioner in the side of the car. We figured that it was empty and perhaps available to explore. What we discovered inside was a retired Cantor who has become curator of a Jewish life exhibit. He is making of the railcar a memorial to Jews killed in concentration camps of World War II.
Sheldon Feinberg had retired as a cantor at Beth Israel Congregation in Beaufort. He received the railcar and associated buildings as a gift from a non-Jewish developer. Feinberg is in the process of expanding the display into a facility for the teaching of a very bleak chapter in the history of the Jewish people. This bit of hard reality sits still upon the tracks, but nostalgia has clearly left the station.