Since beginning my work in a children’s library, I am amazed at how loved our train books are. A couple of my train-loving patrons inspired me to write this story (for my storytelling class). I wanted to call this story “The Little Engineer That Could”–but that title’s taken. For now, it’s “A Train Tale.” This story is dedicated to the Bancks family, to wish them well on their journey.
JP Bancks woke up on his 4th birthday and just knew it was going to be a great day. First of all, it was his birthday. Second, he was taking his very first train ride. Now, you have to understand–JP Bancks LOVED trains. JP and his family lived 2 blocks away from the train depot, so he spent hours each day, in his bedroom, watching the trains go by. JP called it a hobby; JP’s Mother called it an obsession.
When he opened his eyes that morning, he smelled bacon–so naturally he rushed down to breakfast. When he reached the table, his birthday present was waiting in his chair wrapped, in a big green box with a big blue bow. JP had no clue what it could be, the only thing he’d asked for for his birthday was a train ride–and he knew he was getting that. He slowly peeled away the ribbon and paper to find a pair of genuine railroad engineer overalls and a genuine railroad engineer cap. “This is amazing!” JP exclaimed. Then it hit him–JP paused, then looked to his Mother and Father and asked, “Does this mean I’m an engineer?”
His Mother smiled and said, “Sure JP, you’re an engineer.” Father said, “Yeah, I bet they’ll even have you drive the train today.” JP couldn’t believe it. He scarfed down breakfast as fast as he could and ran back up to his room. With care and attention he put on his genuine railroad engineer overalls and genuine railroad engineer cap.
When he got downstairs Mother and Father were ready to go. Father was holding the tickets and Mother was holding her purse. The walk to the depot was only a hop skip and a jump away–but Mother insisted on walking slowly in her high heeled shoes while Father fidgeted with his pocket watch.
Mother and Father were paying JP no attention, so he decided to walk ahead. When he reached the depot, the train was already there and a group of people were waiting to board the passenger car. JP waived at them and headed to the front of the train, to the engine. He figured if he was driving it would be silly to board the passenger car. When JP reached the engine he grabbed the railing and started to step up on to the train. A cole man turned around just as JP was stepping on to the train.
“Where you goin’ kid?”
“I’m JP Bancks, I’m driving this train today.”
“Nice to meet you Mr. JP Bancks but my money says you aint drivin’ this train today.”
Just then JP heard the voice of his Father say, “and my money says he’s not driving the train today.”
Father grabbed JP by the overall straps and started to carry him away.
“But wait!” JP exclaimed. “Mother said I’m an engineer–and you told me I was driving the train today.”
“JP, they don’t let little boys drive trains!” Father said.
“But it’s my birthday!”JP replied.
“Even on their birthday.”Father said.
“You lied to me.” Said JP.
“I was joking son” Father replied.
JP was crushed. Just then a tall stocky man stepped out of the engine room. He was wearing genuine railroad engineer overalls with a genuine railroad engineer cap. He looked at JP and said, “Actually kid, it’s my policy to let little boys drive trains on their birthday–especially if they’re wearing genuine railroad engineer overalls—and most especially if they’re wearing a genuine railroad engineer cap.
JP couldn’t believe it. “You mean it?” He asked.
“I do.” The Engineer turned to JP’s father and said, “Sir, you can take your seat. JP and I will take it from here.”
This was the greatest birthday ever. JP Bancks turned four that day, he rode in a train—and drove a train in his genuine railroad engineer overalls.