Cynthia Baldwin's Memories

Connections through Time on the Great Northern

      2/25/99     

If memories are a tapestry, mine of Humboldt would be filled with yarns of many characters and colors, some long and bright, many cut short, and some where the yarn has grown stronger with the years. Like Linus, my woven blanket of memories keeps me safe when I have felt too alone and disconnected. 

One summer (1967) I was invited to attend a music camp at the University of Minnesota, and I was gone for 4 weeks, living on the campus and having a wonderful time.  I took the Great Northern train home, which left Minneapolis in the evening and arrived in Humboldt at dawn. An ancient conductor took my ticket.  He looked at the name, smiled, and with a twinkle said, "So you're Phil Baldwin's granddaughter! Welcome to Great Northern."  I was astonished.  "You must be Mark's daughter. How are Sarah and Rosie doing?  How’s dear Rose doing?  I told Phil I would watch out for his kids on their way to and from the University of Minnesota.  Now I'll watch out for you too.  I'll have the train stop at the Baldwin farm south of Humboldt, the way we did for your dad." 

I thanked him, but could hardly believe it.  My dad and aunts went to U of M in the late 30s and early 40s--more than 25 years earlier!  Grandpa Phil had been the head customs inspector at Noyes for many years, but I hadn't realized the extent and longevity of his friendships. 

A touring European foosball team had gotten on the train in Minneapolis and were laughing and telling jokes in both English and German to entertain their American travel companions.  When the conductor heard a particularly bawdy one get started, he went to the American in charge and asked them if they would mind their manners.  Didn't they know there was a young lady present and this was thoughtless behavior for foreign dignitaries?  He put his request in such a diplomatic way that they apologized to him and settled down.  It hadn't really bothered me, but I was touched by his thoughtfulness. 

Later the conductor paused for a visit and asked what I was studying.  I told him I wasn't really starting full time until the following year and I hadn't really made up my mind.  He said I would do fine, not to worry.  He handed me a little blanket and told me he would wake me when we got to Hallock, which he did.  Then, as promised, he had the train stop at the gravel crossing in front of my house in the middle of nowhere!  He helped me out, handed me my bag, and sent his good wishes to my family.  I was so touched by his care that I shook his hand and thanked him. 

I felt truly like a part of a larger tapestry of life, woven over generations, belonging still to my grandfather's generation, connected. 

y like a part of a larger tapestry of life, woven over generations, belonging still to my grandfather's generation, connected.