When I first saw Waiting at the Station it sure reminded me (quite literally) of something resonant with my own family. The story that follows is what came immediately to mind when PNB announced this project.
The scene in Waiting at the Station where the protagonist jumps on the train, heading for the audience, evokes some of that sense of possibility and unknown that is a metaphor consistent with so many American immigrant stories, including my family’s. As it happens, my father’s grandparents emigrated from Germany early in the last century looking for opportunity and finding it on the American railroad. My great-grandfather worked as a machinist for the Chicago Northwestern Railroad into the 1930s and his son, my grandfather, worked for the railroad until WWII—when he ran supply trains between Russia and Iran—before starting his own business in locomotive sales that took his family from Ohio to California and points between. Fast-forward to this century: my sister is now the fourth generation in the American railroad industry, having taken over the business our father grew over thirty years. No doubt my 3-year-old nephew comes by being absolutely nuts over “choo choos” naturally.
Every time I see the train rolling through Seattle past the Olympic Sculpture Park or adjacent to Myrtle Edwards and the Seattle waterfront, it’s a sentimental reminder of that legacy in my family. In a city as focused on innovation and new technology as Seattle, I find it especially remarkable that the railroad is one of the conspicuous elements of our collective history that endures.