Atlantic, Iowa…..”As many folks know,
I’m a great old-time train lover,” says Bob Everhart who has recorded
six albums for Smithsonian-Folkways.  “My first introduction to trains
in music was through Jimmie Rodgers the father of country music.  Well, I
don’t know about ‘father.’  If you were to ask anyone who records
so-called country music for a major label today, they wouldn’t know who
their father is.  Anyway, trains were important to some of those early
really authentic country music recording artists.  Bill Monroe, Johnny
Cash, Hank Snow, tons of super stars, including Roy Acuff.  Who could
forget the Wabash Cannonball.  Even Hank Williams liked train songs.  I
have recorded a ton of them, and still perform them.  Sheila (my wife)
and Bobbie Lhea (my daughter) had the great good fortune of taking a
steam-train ride this past weekend.  It was a rainy day, but that didn’t
lessen the pleasure of going on an old-time train trip.  Old Engine
#7081, fired up the coal, and smoking like a house afire left the depot
in Anita for the round trip adventure to Atlantic, Iowa, probably about a
30-mile ride through the countryside.  This particular steam engine was
built in China in 1986, and was the last long distance passenger train
in China that used steam.  Add to this smoking, clanking, old-time
whistler, eight old-time passenger cars, and you begin to have an idea
what it’s all about.  And yes, all eight cars were full when we departed
Anita.  Just thinking that 27-some years ago, an elderly Chinese
carrying a pig to market might have been sitting in the very seat I was
sitting in.  Once out in the hinterlands we could see how well the corn
crops are growing.  Sheila spotted a couple of white-tail deer prancing
along the railroad tracks, and the wild flowers are really wild and
beautiful alongside these same tracks.  It was great fun, we went
shopping in Atlantic, and had a nice char-broiled hamburger for lunch. 
All of the profits went to the Atlantic and Anita Volunteer Fire
Departments.  What a neat way to raise some money, have fun (especially
the hundreds of kids that were on board) and remember the past.”

     “We just finished our last concert at
the Oak Tree Performance Center,” Sheila piped up.  “Sarah Davison and
her band High Road did a simply wonderful job.  Three-part female
harmony is hard to beat.  From Nashville, they really put on a good
show, and now we are looking forward to our next show, June 14th,
featuring Red Johnson, who will no doubt be doing some train songs I
honor of Governor Brandstad’s Museum Week.”

     “Dad wanted to declare the char-broiled
hamburgers a budget lunch when we were on the train ride,” Bobbie Lhea
said.  “But he had taken us earlier in the week to the Kentucky Fried
Chicken that now features what they call their ‘boneless chicken
meal.’   So that’s what we had.  You can get two big chunks of chicken
breast if you ask for it, a biscuit, and we all had cole-slaw, though
you could get other sides.  With drinks too, the total bill was $18.98.
Good going dad!” 

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