I was first introduced to train travel in 1952 at the age of three. Along with my cousin and my aunt, my mother took me from Gainesville, Georgia to the big city of Atlanta for shopping trips several times a year. Before the days of shopping malls, the best “shopping” in North Georgia was in the downtown Atlanta shopping district, where one could easily walk from the downtown train terminal to the two biggest department stores in the city…. Rich’s and Davison’s. On a lucky day, we would have lunch at the Tea Room inside Rich’s; but, more often, lunch would be at the Krystal hamburger joint on the corner across from the entrance to Davison’s. Either way, my cousin and I had a ball. We looked forward to these trips at least three times a year; and, by the time we were ten years old, we could lead the way from place to place all day long as if we were navigating our own back yards.
At age ten, we began begging our moms to let us make the hour-long train trip to Atlanta without them. After all, we knew our way around the shopping district, and they could be CERTAIN that we would not lose our way in the crowds. (In 1960, there was no thought of someone kidnapping us… no thought of any harm coming to us in the city without adult supervision.) But, our moms gave us an unconditional “NO!” and said we would have to wait until we were twelve!