Every train had a red caboose at the end that carried some of the people that took care of the train.
Toot Toot was a very shiny red color with black wheels. It provided the train crew with shelter at the rear of the train. Often times the crew would exit the train for switching rails or to protect the rear of the train if it were stopped. The crew inspected the train often for problems such as box cars with shifting loads or broken equipment. The conductor kept his records and did business from a table in the red caboose.
Inside the caboose stood a cast iron stove for heat and for cooking. Each stove had a lip on the top which kept the pans and coffee pots from sliding off should the train make unexpected turns. The stoves had a double latched door to keep the hot coals from popping out with the rocking of the caboose.
Toot Toot was fitted with red lights called markers which allowed others to see the end of the train at night. These lights were officially what made a train a real “train”! Toot Toot had nice big red lights and he loved to see them glowing in the night air.
He loved to listen to the clickety clack sound of the train moving down the tracks. He was a very proud little caboose.
Then one day some people with uniforms came to look at the trains. Toot Toot knew something was up. He listened to see if he could hear what they were saying but their words were quiet.
Later in the week Toot Toot heard a conductor talking and he listened in.
“Well the old caboose has out-lived itself. Now with all the new equipment and such we really have no need to keep it attached. It would mean we have one less car to pull. All the staff can sit in other cars. It is no big deal!” He announced to all the men surrounding him.
Toot Toot was in shock. Did he hear the conductor right? Were they really going to leave him off the train?
His lights became misty and he felt so very sad. He would never get to see the children at the railroad crossings again. He would never get to see the circus animals again, nor would he get to go places all over the eastern part of the United States. He would just be left in some abandoned yard to rust down. No one would care if his lights were broken or his paint chipped. How could they do this to him? He had joined them for decades and traveled with pride.
So it came to be that little Toot Toot was unhooked from the big train and left in the train yard. He sat there day and night with no one to brighten his day. His paint soon became faded and his lights stopped shining. The rain beat down upon the windows and the car began to leak. The wheels stopped turning and grass soon began to grow around them. Toot Toot felt like dying. He had no reason to live anymore.
Then one day there came two men and they were looking him over. They laughed and displayed a cheerful sound. Toot Toot didn’t know what they were saying but his hopes were raised just a little. At least someone cared enough to come and see him. He smiled a big smile hoping they would notice. Sadly they soon left and he was alone once more.
“How I do wish I could hear the sound of the children once more.” He sighed. “I think I will say a prayer. Maybe God can help me.” He whispered to himself.
“Dear God my name is Toot Toot and I am a red caboose. I would like to ask you to do me a favor. I am not happy here in the rail yard all alone. Please send someone to take me home with them. Please God I’m asking you do to me this one favor and I’ll be a happy train again.”
Weeks passed and no one came to visit Toot Toot. He was so discouraged.
Then one day a train engine came and hooked to him. It began to pull him down the tracks but there were no other cars attached. Toot Toot was so curious.
“Where are they taking me?” He puffed as the car bounced along the tracks.
“Are they going to melt me into a big blob of steel? Oh God please don’t let them hurt me!” He yelled to the top of his voice.
Soon the train stopped in a big city. It left Toot Toot sitting on a side track that was rarely used. He was furious. How could they do this to him?
The next day a truck came and men got out. They looked him over. Then they hooked him to the truck and began to pull him down the street. Dust went everywhere and Toot Toot began to cough.
“Where are they taking me?” He whined rubbing the dust off his glasses.
Soon they pulled into a huge park and placed him right up front. A paint truck came early the next morning and painted him a fresh coat of bright red paint. His wheels were painted black and his lights repaired. Even the inside was cleaned and polished.
When the gates opened to the park that weekend Toot Toot was swamped with children. They were climbing his ladder, running in and out. His ears heard the laughter and he smiled a big smile.
“I’m in the second best place in the world.” He said with a big grin. “I can spend the rest of my days right here and I’ll see new faces all of the time. They will keep me freshly painted and I’ll hear the sound of laughter all of the time. How much better can it get?”
So it came to be that Toot Toot was given a great home. As he sat in the park he could see the trains pass by. None of them had a red caboose at the end. Times had changed and trains were changing with the times. Toot Toot was happy and so were all the children.
You just never get too old to enjoy life and to pray! So it was with the little red caboose named Toot Toot!
Question: Why was Toot Toot lonely?
Written by Sybil Shearin
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