Chattanooga Choo Choo took Aunt Bell to New York City.
Had lunch with my Mom today downtown Chattanooga at Bluewater. We had a wonderful time talking. She remembered her visits into the city of Chattanooga as a young girl. She grew up in Sequatchie valley in a more country setting. She recalled her visits to Aunt Bell and Uncle Bass who lived in an apartment just up the hill from downtown Chattanooga. Mom would walk downtown to the soda shop and wait on them to get out of work.
Mom’s Father was the youngest of 12. One of the older sister’s of the dozen was Bell. Bell was born was born in 1896. Aunt Bell worked at Miller Brothers Department Store as a millinery (hat maker, designer). She was not fond of air travel. She traveled by train to New York to make purchases for the department store. A trip to New York City may take a 2-3 days, one way. I can imagine Mom and Uncle Bass waiting on Bell at what is now the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
Mom recently traveled to New York City. She visited Grand Central Station. So she was able to visit where Bell traveled years ago as a hat designer.
Afterward, I realized that trains and transportation have really shaped our city for years. The recent Civil War re-enactment is a reminder of how important Chattanooga was as a transportation hub to the entire South.
Volkswagen made a reference of jealous envy that the Chattanooga Choo Choo had a world famous song but alas their Beetle is best remembered only as a Love Bug in a movie.
The story of their Chattanooga manufacturing plant is a huge transportation event in history.
Trains have a rich history in Chattanooga. Some of the stories are told at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Others are told all over the region regardless of the steel tracks laid.
Aunt Bell and Uncle Bass retired and moved to the country between Jasper and Whitwell, TN. I do remember hat boxes on the shelf in the back room.
Not sure hats will make a great comeback, but thankful of the impact that Aunt Bell had in a positive way of encouraging my Mom to explore and venture into the city.
I am writing this in Lookout Valley, just outside Chattanooga. In the morning I will be able to hear a distant train whistle echo off Lookout Mountain.
Chattanooga Choo Choo took Aunt Bell to New York City, and it helped shape my family’s history, lady’s hats, and helped connect people and cities crafting a legacy of moving people forward.