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On most Friday nights in the early 1960’s, my brother and I would pile in the car with my mom and go to the train station.

Daddy was coming home and we were there to meet the train he was riding on.

Some nights were cold and some were blissfully summer-like. Most of the time it was late enough that it was dark outside. We could watch the red and green lights positioned along the tracks to see when the train was getting near.

My brother was much more adventurous than me. He was the one who would jump down onto the tracks and put his ear on the rail to see if he could hear the train coming. Of course, what he was looking for was to see if he could feel the vibrations on the track. The train might be miles away, but he was convinced he could hear the train. (My brother later studied to be a mechanical engineer, like my dad. Go figure. There’s a start to everything).

Most nights my father was coming from Chicago in those days. Each time he visited Chicago he stayed at the venerable Palmer House Hotel.

You may recall an earlier story I wrote about how the Palmer House Hotel was the place where the brownie was invented in 1893 for the World’s Fair. The chef was asked to come up with a special dessert for a dignitary luncheon and the brownie was his creation.

My father loved the Palmer House Hotel. It wasn’t until I was 18 years old that I got to see the hotel and sit in the grand lobby. Before that I would just hear stories from my dad about how beautiful the place was.

When we arrived home, we were whisked off to bed. The rest of the evening, my parents got to catch up with each other.

I’m not privy to those conversations, of course, but there is historical evidence of at least part of what happened after we were snoozing in bed.

The evidence I am referring to comes in the form of a silver charm bracelet...


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