Ever since I started wearing glasses back in 1952 some of my stupid friends would call me ‘four eyes.’ Not sure why but it made me mad. I didn’t want to wear glasses in the first place but my mom said I had to wear them anyway. And ever since that time I had to give up my wanting to be Roy Rogers. Roy didn’t wear glasses. Neither did Superman. Well, I take that back. Clark Kent wore glasses but really didn’t have lenses in the frame. It was just a disguise. That and his reporter’s fedora. Lois Lane never could tell Clark Kent was really Superman with glasses. But my glasses are in a cheap wire frame. Looking like Mr. Whimple the guy on the Fring Dingus TV show. So this is why I decided to become a Chicken Whisperer. I have talent in this area. Yes that and taking out the trash. Both these occupations are prominently posted on my resume.
Never the less, my new best friend Donnie from Milwaukee and me sometimes would wander over to the Union Pacific train station. It’s was about a half mile away from our street. Cutting across the big empty vacant lot just south of the Willard Battery factory, across the switch tracks, and down Ferguson Avenue we would stroll. A station styled in post Spanish colonial architecture with black rot-iron fixtures and a red tile roof. Some say this East L A station was used a few times for a movie backdrop. But anyway, we would go there and try to look like passengers about to board the train. But if the truth be known we went there to drink from the only refrigerated drinking fountain in the territory. We would sometimes just sit in the pew-like seats and wait a few minutes and then casually walk back over to the chilled water fountain and drink like we just walked out of the Mojave Desert. Then we would stroll out on the expansive tarmac where passenger trains arrive and depart. While the train was taking on passengers I would walk up to the front of the train and look at the glossy yellow engine withit’s red lettering: Union Pacific Railroad. Up in the cab of the train were engineers in their blue bib overalls, engineer cap, red bandana around their neck, and I just would gawk and daydreamed. So one other time I was doing this the engineer opened the cab window and said, “Do you want to come up and look inside?” I guess I was so buried in thought I just froze. My first thought was all the short movies our teachers showed us about kidnappers and their tragic result. So, mindlessly, I shook my head and backed away. The engineer probably thought I was short on curiosity and a bit Okie. He was probably right. No Chicken Whisperer would ever board a train without his mother’s permission.