Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Mail Car" Max

Since I am well-travelled, I am often asked about the best routes to take. Sometimes I can oblige the individual with a knowledgeable response, and sometimes I tell him about "Mail Car" Max.

"Mail Car" Max was a medium-sized mutt of indeterminate ancestry who made his home at the railroad station in Yonkers, New York. Every morning he would hop on the 6:40 a.m. mail and freight train going due south to Fort Washington. There he would get off and relieve himself, then reboard and continue on to Brooklyn. In Brooklyn he would disembark once more and visit a local tavern, where he was given a bowl of beer and a sausage biscuit. After that he would take a nap. He always woke up in time to board the 2:10 pm westbound train, and returned travelling north by way of Hoboken to Fort Lee, where he completed a circle by taking a ferry back to the city.

Max was well known to all the porters, who documented his travels. When he wasn't sitting on a mail sack he often rode with the conductor, looking out through the foremost window.

Why didn't Max simply hop back on the northbound train to Yonkers for his return trip, in order to get home quickly? Why on earth did he go through New Jersey? Perhaps he preferred the view when crossing the Hudson River from the west to the east. Perhaps he felt he should comfort the porters who had to work in the Garden State. I do not know. The "best" route is sometimes a matter of personal taste, and there's no accounting for that.

copyright ©2011 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

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