It Must Be Something!

We’ve been spoiled this year, for sure! A trip through Europe with our son and his family. And now we’re flying again—to visit three countries new to us but ancient in civilization: Egypt, Jordan, and Israel.

For the first leg of our journey, I sat beside a young man headed to France to teach English. He’s giving teaching a try, he told me. He might like the classroom.

“But I have another idea,” he told me.

Though he had seemed travel fatigued a moment before, he became suddenly buoyant.

“I’m thinking of urban planning,” he said.

I waited, sure more was to come.

“You know what I’d like to do?” he asked. “I’d like to develop a network of trains across the United States, like in Europe.”

I hesitated, not wanting to spoil his dream.

“Did you know,” I asked, “about the interurban railroad?”

“Tell me,” he said.

And so I told him how, a hundred years ago, the interurban electric railways crisscrossed the United States, how even a kid could hail a railroad car from in front of the house where I now live in London, Ohio, and go to the big city to see the Columbus Buckeyes play ball or to a movie in Springfield, or just keep going all the way to Chicago to visit a grandma.

He looked at me as though I had ridden the interurban myself, as if to him, a hundred years seemed endless.

“It must be something,” he said, “to know what happened all those years ago.

We each turned to our own devices—me to my computer and him to his phone. But his last words stuck. After all, we are going to places where we’ll delve into millennia, not centuries.

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