AtoZ Blog Challenge – E – Evanston and the EL trains


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I grew up in Evanston, IL. We moved there from Chicago in time to celebrate my 6th birthday in our new home on Asbury Avenue. My mother never learned to drive, so public transportation, especially the trains, played a big part in getting back and forth to Chicago. In writing my new novel, Facing East, I drew heavily upon my memories of times when I rode the EL sitting beside her. The following passage proves the point.

It was seven o’clock by the time Katherine got off the train at Davis Street. She followed a mother and her little girl down the steps from the platform to the street below. It seemed long ago now, but Katherine thought of snuggling close to her own mother, head resting against the curly lamb coat she wore as they rode the train home from the city. Would this child in front of her, who held tight to her mother with one hand, and the stair railing with the other, remember this day? Years from now, all grown up, would she step off another train and miss her mother as Katherine missed hers? More than likely this little girl’s memory of today would slip away, not intentionally brushed aside, but in order to make room for the life that stretched ahead of her.

About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
This entry was posted in AtoZ Blog Challenge April 2015 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to AtoZ Blog Challenge – E – Evanston and the EL trains

  1. It is wonderful to have trains to get into major cities. I live in the southern part of NJ so a train is the best choice when it comes to visiting Philadelphia and especially NYC. My best recollection of the term elevated train and the City of Chicago is in the movie the Fugitive with Harrison Ford. When Richard Kimble was on the run, he called the US Marshalls and they deciphered from the recording that it was an EL in the background. Great post today.

  2. noelleg44 says:

    So many memories of riding the El – and of driving my husband to the station at 6 in the AM, boots over bare feet, winter coats over PJs, hair in rollers.

  3. Ah yes, the old… throw the coat over the PJ trick… shared by North Shore wives through the years.

  4. swathishenoy says:

    Loved the passage from the novel Stepheny 🙂 I have rarely travelled by trains, bus being my major means of travelling. But the few times I travelled by train, I loved the experience 🙂


    • The EL’s in Chicago are far from glamorous, but they are efficient. You over hear languages from around the world and note the savy commuters, heads down reading the Tribune or studying. A trip worth your to do list. Come back and see me.

  5. lucciagray says:

    Wonderful reflection on memory. What we remember and what we forget is so arbitrary it’s painful, perhaps that’s why we need to write and take pictures of everything:)

  6. pbmgarden says:

    Wonderful memories. I grew up in such a small town Chicago seems so exotic. You have reminded me though of a train ride I took with my father and sisters though that I’d forgotten.

  7. jazzfeathers says:

    When she visited last year, an American friend of mine was very surprised to see how common travelling by train is for us Europeans.
    I’ve been a communter for ten years now, I travel to and from work everyday… and I still love trains 😉
    It’s true, you overhear all kinds of conversations on the train. Sometimes, that’s like gold for a writer.

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