Train Enthusiast Enjoys Being a Train Host
By Candy Wood
Being a train host is a wonderful way to volunteer, meet interesting people, travel and serve the state of North Carolina.
Ever since I was a young girl and listened to the train whistle while trying to go to sleep at my grandmother’s house, I’ve loved trains and train travel. My grandmother lived on Olive Street in Greensboro and her long back yard bordered on the train tracks which ran along Church Street. At night on her sleeping porch in the summer (before there was central air conditioning), I could hear the train whistle as the train passed through Greensboro on its way to some mysterious place. And, of course, I always fantasized about where it was going and who was on board.
Now I am grown and am what is kindly called “a senior citizen.” Like lots of my peers, I am retired and have time to volunteer. One of the things I chose to do is become a train host. You don’t have to be a senior to be a train host, but most of us are. There are about 134 of us in North Carolina and we live throughout the state. I live in Winston-Salem and my closest train station is in High Point. I take a trip about every 45-60 days and go either on the Piedmont to Charlotte or the Carolinian to Rocky Mount. Both trips are enjoyable and there are interesting places to visit during the layovers. In the fall there is a State Fair train which makes a special stop right across the street from the N. C. State Fair in Raleigh. We need several hosts for these trips as the train is always full. And the train hosts can get off and spend the day at the fair!
The main thing that train hosts do is meet and greet passengers and give out information on train schedules and places to visit in the various towns along the route. I make a habit of visiting various museums and restaurants in the towns where I have a layover so I can tell passengers what’s available in various places.
Museums and Restaurants!
In Charlotte, for example, I have been to the Mint Museum, Discovery Place (for children), the Betchler Museum of Modern Art, and the Levine Museum of the New South. On my next trip, I plan to visit the Harvey Gantt Museum of African-American Art & Culture. And, of course, I have tried several fine restaurants in downtown Charlotte.
Train hosts travel on the train for free, but we don’t receive any pay, and our relatives must have a ticket if they go with us. North Carolina is a beautiful state and it is fun to see parts of it through the windows of a train. If you are a people person and enjoy traveling, this is a great opportunity for you to volunteer.
For more information on being a train host, go to our website at www.ncbytrain.org and click on “train host.” I hope to see you on the train next time. All aboard!