Many years ago, in East Hampton, Long Island, New York, my mother, Janet (Jenny) MacCormick, and my two sisters, Morag and Fiona, were living with our families in the same community for the first time in over 18 years. My two boys, Neil and Gunnar, along with Fiona’s girls – Janet, Elizabeth and Fiona – in the summer when not frolicking at the beach – either at Wyborg, our favourite ocean strand or at Maidstone where the gentle waves posed no threat to the young ones – or playing in a miniature city they built in our back garden – all required entertainment. I had an old Kalamazoo Sport Model guitar (not the instrument at which I was best skilled) and managed to strum some basic chords on it to accompany the kids on various songs such as The Three Craws and an amusing version of My Bonnie (with such memorable lines as “I stuck my feet out of the window, in the morning my neighbors were dead.”)
in these blessed days, my family of four would drive from our apartment in Fresh Meadows, Queens, to our place in the Hamptons almost every Friday night in the fall, winter and spring. In the summer we would move out to our house in The Springs, East Hampton. I had to work in Manhattan in the summer so commuted on the Long Island Railroad every Friday night to spend the weekend in our paradise with our families. This produced a weekly event – meeting my train at The East Hampton station. I have a couple of photos taken there. (My wee sister Fiona, up to her usual mischief, one Friday evening, led the kids to my coach as I got off, screaming “I want your autograph,” causing a bit of a stir because the area had many famous residents such as Dina Merrill, and unknown to us then, Leonard Bernstein, as well as the artist, Willem deKooning.
That train trip also stimulated me to invent a song to be sung with accompaniment on my Kalamazoo guitar – The Long Island Railroad Song. It is pure doggerel. But for those of us still around, full of memories. My sister Fiona’s second born, Liz, now in Charleston South Carolina, tells me that on the rare occasions she travels to the Hamptons by train from Penn Station, she sings and teaches her daughter the chorus of that epic.
So here it is, to be sung to that famous tune, Casey Jones composed by Wallace Saunders.
LONG ISLAND RAILROAD ( GOING OUT TO MONTAUK)
(Tune: Casey Jones)
Long Island Railroad, going out to Montauk,
Long Island Railroad, going all the way,
Long Island Railroad going out to Montauk,
We’re going to ride on it one sunny day.
You get to Penn Station with ten minutes to go or less,
Coz your cab got caught in a crosstown mess,
The line to get a ticket is incredibly slow
But you make it to the train just as they close the door
The coach is really crowded, and there’s not a seat in sight,
But most are really happy, coz it’s Friday night.
We’re heading from the City to the beaches and the sun,
From noisy streets and stress to two days of fun.
Through the tunnel, under water, we pop out the other side,
Queens flashes by, we’re really rockin’. Hold on tight!
We’re slowing down now, the Jamaica Rush is near.
Where we run across the platform with all our gear.
Finally we’re pulling out, and some give a cheer.
Even those who have to stand are smiling ear to ear,
We know we’re heading east to our Promised Land,
And soon we’ll be relaxing by the sea and sand.
The Fire Island folks are getting ready to debark,
For Cherry Grove, Saltaire, Davis Park.
Now us left on the train can stretch out with more space.
We’re more than halfway to our favorite place.
There used to be a bar car attached to this train.
If you had to stand, they said, let there be less pain.
Now you have your water, healthier for you they say,
But for those who like it strong, g’nts are not far away.
As we reach the Hamptons, West, South, Bridge and East.
Scores of family, friends wait to take you to their feast
Of fresh scallops, crab, bluefish and corn.
Makes you think of East Side restaurants with nothing but scorn.
One more place before the end of the line.
“Amagansett.” is the conductor’s cry,
A little girl asks mommie “Have we got there yet?”
Daddy says, “Next stop – don’t you fret.”
(SLOW) Now the brakes are going on for one last time.
We glide into the station – “Daddy, look at the sign!”
“Yes it’s M-O-N-T-A-U-K – we’re out of track.
We’ve made it and we’re madly happy to be back!”
Chorus – slow then repeat fast
“But next time we’ll take the Cannonball!”
Lyrics by Neil MacCormick c. 2011
This indeed is a LIRR train in the East Hampton Station. But it is not the train from Penn Station . Just a one stop fun jaunt to Bridgehampton for Kristina Neil and Gunnar. I took the photo then raced the train in our car to pick them up.
OOPS this is probably cars in one of many railroad museums we visited back then and not LIRR cars. but we can pretend, OK?