In the perennial Christmas classic movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” there is a scene where George Bailey hears a train whistle and proceeds to share, “There she blows. You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?” Uncle Billy, who is standing right next to George, jokingly answers, “Uh huh. Breakfast is served; lunch is served; dinner is served.” George quickly corrects his old Bailey Building and Loan pal by quipping, “No, no, no, no! It’s anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.”

I have always loved train whistles. Maybe because when I was in high school I took a train to the campus. We lived just a few blocks from the station, and you would hear the trains all through the day and night. Many mornings, that was my alarm clock. I lived on the third floor of this very old house so I could hear from that level what many others missed. Hearing those sounds coming from the Erie Lackawanna was both haunting and hospitable at the same time. I still stop what I’m doing every time I hear an engine roaring down the tracks in the distance.

Rudy Sheptock is the pastor of Shamokin Christian and Missionary Alliance Church and hosts weekend oldies radio shows on WISL-AM 1480. His columns appear in each Friday edition of The News-Item and he welcomes reader feedback at

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