Updated date:

Hear That Whistle Blow - Katie's First Memories

Jackie tells of the many adventures and emotions of a little girl growing up in a large family in the fifties.

This is a story of a little country girl named Katie who spent much of her time alone with only her thoughts and outdoor surroundings to entertain her. Caught in the middle of six siblings (she making seven), being too young for the older ones and second mother to the younger ones, who were all boys.


War and Peace

Katie's dad had been fighting in a war and her mom busy helping the family survive while he searched for employment outside the mines. Coal mines were such dangerous and treacherous work. Besides the danger of mine's collapsing it had very bad effects on the lungs of these miners they would not fully understand until many years and horrible deaths later.

Katie's grandpa was superintendent now and finally outside the mine but it would not be in time as all would become more aware of in years to come. The money was very good and her grandma had anything she wanted and this was how it was for those too old to make changes. Where life was where you were at and you made the best of it.

Katie only knew her dad wanted out and mining was the only job for him if they stayed here, so he was searching up north near a bigger city where jobs were more plentiful.

It was hard on young men but even rougher on men who had families already started and called away so suddenly because of war. Yet Katie's dad, as many others went, no questions asked and only thanked God they made it back home to them.

This was something many would have faced at this time, post-war, with big families to feed and take care of.

Katie's mom wrote a letter to a state representative who helped her dad find a job!

Country Living


Through the Woods to Grandmother's House

Katie's grandmother lived just through the woods and at a very young age Katie was allowed to walk to her house. No one could see her but if she screamed or even yelled loud, both houses were within hearing distance so she supposed it was safe enough. She wondered many times at being allowed so much on her own as much as she loved the freedom. She was at her grandparents house almost daily.

Well she was tomboy through and through so she really had no fears. She loved to visit her grandmother who still had kids at home that were two uncles and an aunt, that Katie loved to see and be around.

This aunt shared boyfriends with her and sometimes she had to remind Katie they were hers when Katie took her place beside them on the front porch swing for too long. Katie was probably about four at this time. Boyfriends seemed perfectly natural to her!

Just a Swinging


Happy Days

This aunt would be leaving soon to go to the city to work and the only time she would see her is when she would bring a train back home. Katie so loved riding with her grandparents to the train station to pick her aunt up and it was an extraordinary thing to be out after dark and have bright lights twinkling everywhere around.

She promised herself one day she would ride a train too and look out over the land as the train rushed along and the engineer tooted the long train whistle. That was such a beautiful sound.

This aunt was her mother’s youngest sister and there were two brothers younger than her, and Katie loved them all. They were so much fun and always joking and laughing.

Katie never remember her grandparents laughing or kidding but they had lost several children as babies yet almost all of their children were so much fun to be around, just like Katie's mom. These two brothers fought a lot but they did it laughing as she remembered; just in fun.


Shirley Temple Smile

Katie's mom had a sister with red hair that Katie looked so much like. That sister had four boys and no girls and she smiled so much her face couldn’t look sad. It was frozen in a smile. Katie always thought that was really unusual but no one else seemed to notice. She was fun to be around too and her youngest son had flaming red hair and so many freckles!

Only her Mom’s oldest sister; who seemed so serious, and her oldest brother, who was married to a sourpuss school teacher, didn’t laugh and smile as much as all the others.

This brother was very nice and friendly though and Katie had a huge crush on him until she found out she could not, with him being her uncle. About this time when her youngest aunt was leaving, this uncle went into the marines. He picked Katie up and hugged and kissed her goodbye and then after he got the school teacher wife he never kissed or hugged Katie again.

Outdoor Water Pump


Katie's Aunt's BFF

There were so many memories here for Katie and only being five years old now she still clung to almost all of them to never forget. Besides the family there was a friend of her aunts who lived on the hillside above the grandparents. There was a highway in between so Katie could not go there on her own but this friend would come and get Katie occasionally to take to her house and take pictures. Many looked much like Shirley Temple. She would teach Katie how to pose and be prissy to make a good picture.

Katie loved going to this friends house because it was even higher above the river than her grandmothers. You could see the train tracks from here and the porch was long with a swing; but then, everyone had a swing!

This friend took Katie inside to her bedroom to fix her hair and she got to see her beautiful room. She thought someday she would have a bedroom just like this. It was so much fun sitting in front of the dresser getting all fixed up for pictures. Of course they would have to wait to get them developed so she wouldn't get to see them until they were mailed off and came back. A pretty long time.

They had a water pump out back of the house that Katie was allowed to pump and get a drink from. There was a sink with water inside of course from a well but this was just much more fun. She would always get sprayed so it had to wait until the pictures were over. The water and the dipper had such a great taste and made her tongue tickle.

Katie would always remember her aunt's best friend for being so kind but also for a reason Katie never found out about. Her aunt, this best friend and Katie all shared a middle name.


Katie understood little of this, other than they would leave and go far away and she could never walk to her grandma's house again after this.

So Many Goodbyes

They would sell the little house and all the animals and have enough money to resettle until her dad's pay checks started coming through.

So Katie being too young to be of any real help or knowing much, if any, of the hardships, made it her job to try to stay out of the way and not be a problem added to the many her mom and dad already had.

She always was obedient and never would think of sassing or talking back to her parents. She knew somehow automatically to be well behaved as did her siblings, without any threats of punishment.

With all but one of her siblings being boys, it did influence her somewhat and she would be a tomboy for many years to come. Going barefoot and climbing trees was second nature. Perhaps the beauty of nature kept so much of the little girl inside. Many times climbing trees led to overlooking the beauty of the countryside or puffy clouds sailing through the sky and the golden rainbows occasionally that caused even someone so young to long to know what the future might hold.

She spent many hours daydreaming about that very thing when the adventures was not filling her days.

Are you a Katie too?


Katie visited all her favorite places and said farewell to all her favorite trees and rocks and even the sky above her.

Heartfelt Farewell

Katie stayed often with her grandparents but especially now she knew it would be her last days here. She had no swim suit so she took all her clothes off and played in her underwear not to get her clothes wet from wading. There was the temptation to do a little dog paddling on very hot days. The sun-dried her in no time and no one ever knew.

There was a train there too above that river that went by up high on the tracks across from her grandparent’s place. Sometimes they pulled that whistle so very long and besides a special treat to greet Katie when she waved. This was a safety warning too for children or cattle that may be near the tracks ahead.

They gave plenty of warning sound but the sound to Katie caused a longing for the future, so unknown. She so loved to hear that whistle blow. It always cut so deeply into her heart.

Train Whistles

© 2017 Jackie Lynnley


Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on October 01, 2017:

Thanks so much Peg, so glad this inspired good memories. So appreciate your visit!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on September 29, 2017:

Love the imagery and the sense and smell of the country life. I can almost taste the well water and the dipper. Porch swings were part of my upbringing, too. Love the memories this story inspires.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on September 07, 2017:

Thank you John, I appreciate the read and the follow! I will check out your hubs right away.

johnmariow on September 07, 2017:

A delightful story. Very enjoyable read.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on September 06, 2017:

Thank you Nithya! Just cannot say how pleased I am to hear that.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 05, 2017:

A wonderful story, am going to enjoy reading this series.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on August 17, 2017:

So pleased the Katie story inspired you to share all this. So very interesting. You should write about it, I know we would all thoroughly enjoy it. Thank you!

Yes Katie went into a big strong river not knowing how to swim and could well have died more than once!

Shannon Henry from Texas on August 17, 2017:

I love the concept behind your title! And I look forward to reading more about Katie as it seems she will hear that whistle blow more in her future.

This story makes me wonder about how many things kids did that their parents did not find out about. I heard stories from my aunts more than my dad about some things they did that they were not supposed to do or that their mom did not know about until they grew up and told her. He grew up in the country as well.

I remember some things that I did, too, when I was younger that my parents did not know about at the time. Though my sister was more rebellious than I ever dared to be. It is kind of scary to think about what my kids may have done or will do! LOL.

But perhaps it is a right of passage somehow. I try to remember the tales from other people and my own childhood whenever my kids get caught doing something or whenever something happens to someone else's children and others are busy judging their parenting. It really is not so hard for kids to go around the rules when they want to and they don't always get caught. But when they do, they pay the price somehow.

Katie and her dog paddling made me think of that. But I would likely not be caught in the woods alone unless the trail was wide and clear of weeds. I told Bill the other day that they scare me. Silly, but true! I used display by a creek near our home when I was a kid until I got a rash all over my body somehow. Not sure what I got into but avoided weeds as much as possible ever since! Also had a friend almost lead me into a HUGE patch of poison ivy to get to this fort in the middle of the woods she found. Thankfully, I noticed just before stepping off into it! Friends mountain biking and falling off the bike when she hit a rock wrong. She and landed in poison ivy. I don't know...just can't handle the thought. So now I am happy on trails where I can keep the weeds away from me where they belong. LOL. Katie was brave indeed.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 31, 2017:

Louise, my grandmother had blackberries I helped her pick too, but once she said watch for snakes I got little else done! Thanks for your time stopping by!

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 31, 2017:

Your story was really interesting. I was born and brought up in the country, and loved it. I lived with my Grandmother for a while, and we would often go out blackberry picking. I spent a lot of time outdoors.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 30, 2017:

God bless you Theresa and thank you. I can only guess that it helps that I just become Katie as I write, if one can be a five year old again. ha ha

I do my best and this is my favorite too. Fun to do.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on July 30, 2017:

Hi Jackie, I do so enjoy reading your series here and so glad you are publishing them again! These are your finest stories and all who read are right there with Katie. You pull your readers in.

Great writing!

God bless

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 28, 2017:

Thanks so much Linda and Ven. Very pleased you both are enjoying this.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on July 27, 2017:

That's true, Jackie. My wife grew up to be more solid and determined after undergoing all those oddities. You can realize it from my tribute to her posted 2 years back.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 27, 2017:

Katie is an interesting character. You described her interests in life and her worries about the future very well, Jackie. I'm going to enjoy this series.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 27, 2017:

You perceived Katie's loneliness, Ven, but then perhaps she and your wife became great thinkers and more perceptive themselves because of it.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on July 27, 2017:

A wonderful story. I just got the email for your second part and went back to find this first part of it.

I heard my wife's life story through her mouth many times and this one resembles her life between ten siblings. She was the youngest and the least wanted a lonely girl of their family.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 26, 2017:

Thanks Ann, so pleased I could do that. Great to see you!

Ann Carr from SW England on July 26, 2017:

This reminded me of my younger days spent with family and friends. So carefree then, wasn't it? You put us in the picture and I can feel all the emotions.


Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 26, 2017:

Thanks Bill and I still have my favorite spots too. I think everyone should. Good medicine!

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 26, 2017:

Peggy that would have been wonderful growing up that way. I went on to spend summers and sometimes Christmas with them but it was not the same!

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on July 26, 2017:

I still walk in the woods and have my favorite trees and rocks. Maybe it's the child-likeness of it all that appeals to me. Anyway, Katie had a good thing going. Thanks, Jackie.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 25, 2017:

Nice story! I grew up in the country with a path between my parents home and my grandparents. Loved that closeness and the family ties.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 25, 2017:

Thanks for coming back Rachel. I hope you will give thought to writing one too! I would so love to read it. I can't even imagine growing up around a city and there is so much you could share with us and your feelings about that. I love writing as if I were still the child and remembering how I thought as one, but it could be written in different way, too.

Try it!

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on July 24, 2017:

Jackie, I had a feeling it was your story, but I wasn't sure. I also love the sound of the train, it was one of the last sounds I heard when I slept over my Nona's house.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 24, 2017:

Thank you so much Rachel, so glad to have you read this. No it is my story and I had it here I think before you joined and have had friends say I should put it back up so am editing it a little to improve and plan to put one once a week.

Would love to read your story. They are really fun to write, too! Strange what you start remembering. I thnk it is good for the brain...and the soul.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on July 24, 2017:

Hi Jackie, I thoroughly enjoyed your story. I love the country and descriptions of the country life. It brought back memories of when my younger cousin and older cousin and I would traipse all over our small town streets and visit our grandmother, who we called Nona, which means grandmother in Italian. She had three unmarried daughters at that time, our aunts, who were similar to Katies'. Thank you for this story. Did you make it up?

Blessings to you.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 24, 2017:

Thank you Gypsy. Sounds so interesting, you should write about that. Nothing like fun memories!

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on July 24, 2017:

A most delightful and wonderful story. My childhood summers made me into a Katie which I spent in the Catskill Mountains of New York.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 23, 2017:

Thanks so much Dora, very pleased you enjoyed it!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 23, 2017:

Glad that altogether Katie was having a happy childhood. "Perhaps the beauty of nature kept so much of the little girl inside." It's great when children are not too much aware of the struggles of adulthood. My kind of story! Good read.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 23, 2017:

Thank you Eric, Ryan and Bill! So pleased you could relate and enjoyed Katie's character.

There will be more, very soon!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 23, 2017:

This story took me back to times in my childhood....you really captured Katie quite well, Jackie!

Ryan from Louisiana, USA on July 23, 2017:

I really enjoyed this short story. I could visualize myself in Katie's shoes at some points of the story especially adventures through the woods. Great work. I look forward to reading more.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 23, 2017:

I do believe I am in love with Katie as you brought her to life.

Related Articles