Chapter 47 – Rakevet (רכבת) (train) – December 2028
Tony led his family through Penn Station in New York; he hoped he remembered the way to the Long Island Railroad platforms so that they could catch the train out to the Island without too much of a wait. The kids were complaining about the walk through the station, wondering why they had to take a train when they could have just as easily driven out to the destination.
"You haven't had the full New York experience until you've commuted from the city to the Island and or vice versa," he explained to the five kids. "Besides, the walking is good exercise."
Fourteen year old Tali nudged her brother, "Says the man who complains about having to walk the trash cans to the street every week." Eleven year old Anthony grinned and nodded.
Almost nine year old Rivka looked around the station, "How many tracks are there, Abba?"
"Twenty-one tracks and eleven platforms," he replied. "Tracks seventeen through twenty-one are exclusively for the Long Island Railroad. They share some other tracks with New Jersey Transit and Amtrak."
"Penn Station is the busiest railroad station in North America; over six hundred thousand passengers on an average weekday," Beth read from the website about the station. "That's a lot of people!"
LJ was trying to figure out how the trains got to the other areas, "How do the trains get out of the station?"
Tony pointed towards the ends of the platforms, "There are seven tunnels; four under the East River, two under the Hudson River, and one connecting to the northern lines. We'll go through a tunnel under the East River out on to Long Island."
"So we'll be UNDER the water?" LJ had to check if he understood what Abba meant. The seven year old was not too sure he wanted to be underwater in a train.
"The tunnels are all safe, LJ. They are built under the riverbed. The tunnels are one hundred thirty five feet below the river surface on the Manhattan side and one hundred forty seven feet down on the Long Island side," Ziva read the information from Beth's phone.
The commuter train pulled in to the platform; passengers exited and headed to the stairways. After the train emptied, the waiting passengers entered the cars. The DiNozzo family followed Tony into a car near the middle of the train. The first thing he did was to move towards the middle of the car where the rows of seats faced each other. He and Ziva sat on the side with two seats per row facing towards the front of the train; the five kids sat on the side with three seats per row.
"How long is the ride to where we are going?" Anthony was curious about the destination and the ride to get there.
Tony responded with the information he found the night before, "It takes about fifty five minutes to get to Hempstead. Once there, we'll walk a little ways so I can show you some places from when I was a boy. Uncle Angelo's bakery is no longer in business, but the building is still standing; the church that he and Aunt Isabella attended is just up the street as is the house where they lived."
"Is that the Uncle Angelo of the cannoli recipe?" Riv loved the Italian treats and enjoyed helping her father make them for special occasions.
"One and the same," her father replied. "My office desk came from Uncle Angelo's bakery. But before he had it, the desk belonged to my grandfather DiNozzo."
The train started moving as Tony told them about seeing the desk at his grandparents' house when he was preschool-aged. He remembered hiding under the center of the desk when playing with his cousins. He also told them about the desk sitting in Uncle Angelo's office in the bakery. It was too big for the tiny room, but since it had belonged to his father, Uncle Angelo would not even consider getting rid of it for a smaller desk.
The conductor came through and took the tickets from Ziva; she, Tony, and Tali were at off-peak fare, while the four younger kids were only one dollar fare each on the family plan for off-peak travel. The train pulled in to the Jamaica station.
"This station is a hub for the different branches of the Long Island Railroad," Tony explained to the family. "When we went to the Hamptons for the summer, Mom and I would ride the Montauk branch train into the city to go to the dollar matinees. The Montauk branch is part of the southern line of track; the electrified part ends at Babylon, so we often switched trains there."
The five young DiNozzos and their Ima listened to Tony's memories as the train made its way through the various stations on the Hempstead branch. At the tenth, and final, station, they departed the train onto the platform of the Hempstead station.
"That was certainly a lot different from riding the DC Metro," Ziva commented as the family followed Tony to the street. "And different from the Amtrak train we rode from DC to New York."
"We could just call this the train experience weekend," Tali suggested. "Although I still don't understand why we didn't just drive up from home."
Tony turned to face his family as they waited for a crossing light to be in their favor, "Something different is always good for an adventure." He grinned at the kids, "Besides, if we drove, you wouldn't get the full New York experience." The light changed and they crossed the street. He stopped in front of a brick building. "This is it; where Uncle Angelo's bakery used to be." He looked around; things had changed drastically from when he was a kid.
"THIS was a bakery?" Beth was not too sure her father remembered correctly. The building in front of them had signs for a vape shop but was empty.
A few blocks up the street, the Catholic Church that Tony remembered from his childhood looked the same except for the chain-link fence around the entire property. Another two blocks and he turned on to a side street, counting three houses in.
The house he remembered still stood, but it had been converted into apartments. He sighed as he told his family about playing in the back yard and his first time with a swing set.
The family made their way back to the main street and headed back towards the train station. Anthony and LJ asked about lunch, since both were getting hungry. Tony led them to the dinette that he remembered from so long ago. That had not changed in fifty years; the booths and counter stools looked the same as he remembered. The family took up two booths for their meal.
After they ate, they headed back to the train station to ride the train back to Penn Station. On the platform in Hempstead, Tony looked back at the town he once loved to visit and sighed.
LJ tugged at his Abba's sleeve, "Perhaps you should have left your memories be?"
"I still have them," Tony replied. "But like everything else, change is inevitable. At least you all got to see places from my past and I could share memories with everyone."