Disclaimer: I do not own Arthur or the characters within, Arthur belongs to Marc Brown
It is Saturday and afternoon. The Read family is driving to the other side of Elwood City to see some old friends David and Jane had since before Arthur was born.
Jane is driving the car and David is in the front passenger seat. All three kids are in the backseat where they usually sit. The Reads have been traveling through Elwood City for some twenty minutes and have another more than forty minutes to go before they get to their friends' house. They were invited to come over and have dinner with them. It's been a while since the Reads have seen them. Arthur knows them too but D.W. doesn't yet because even though Mr. and Mrs. Reads' friends saw her once before last time they saw each other, she was a baby so D.W. has absolutely no memory of them.
"I can't wait to see our old friends Christina and Bob again," says David, "it's been a while."
"I know," says Jane, "it's going to be nice to see them again. It think it's been, how old is Arthur again?"
"I'm eight," Arthur blurts out but respectfully.
"Thanks, sweetie," says Jane.
"Ha ha ha," laughs D.W., "Mom forgot your name."
Arthur doesn't say anything, he's not up to fighting so he just ignores her.
"D.W.," says Jane, "that's enough. Now where was I? Oh yeah, Arthur was four years old last time we saw them so, it's been four years since we've seen them."
"It's too bad they moved across town," says David, "they used to be our next door neighbors right before Susy Sipple moved in.
"They lived where the Molinas are living now?" asks D.W.
"They sure did," says David.
"I remember Christina and Bob," says Arthur, but not very much, "and they had a son I was friends with and I think his name was Curtis, wasn't it?"
"Yeah it was, Arthur," says Jane, "you two were really good friends."
"You sure were," says David, "you two used to play together even more than you did with Buster."
"Yeah," says Arthur, "and I think Buster and I used to play with him before he moved away. I was sad when Curtis wasn't our neighbor anymore."
"He still lives in town," says David, "just on the other side."
"I know," says Arthur, "And I really like Buster, but I don't get to see Curtis anymore. Why did they move?"
"It's closer to Bob's job," says David.
"Hey," says D.W. "Bob and job rhyme!"
"That's right, D.W.!" says Jane, "Very good!"
"But couldn't they have just stay where they were?" asks D.W., "If the job is in Elwood City?"
"They could have, honey," says Jane.
"But," says David, "Bob's job is a little ways outside of Elwood City, way far from where we live and the drive was too long for Bob and so he decided to move himself and his family closer to it so he wouldn't have to drive as long and it would save him on gas."
"He could have quit and got another job," says D.W.
Everyone chuckles a little.
"It's true," says Jane, "but I think he really likes his job and I don't think he wants to quit."
"Yeah, D.W.," says Arthur, "would you want to quit something you really liked?"
"No," says D.W., "well maybe."
Then she continues, "No, not if I really like it. Even if it was far away I'd still like it and I'd stay where I was living and I'd drive all the way over there."
D.W. is not yet aware of the responsibilities, expenses, and what have you about driving a car.
"Besides," says Arthur, "if they hadn't moved away, even though it would have been nice to keep them, the Molinas wouldn't be living next to us. Don't you like the Molinas?"
"Now that you mentioned it," says D.W. "I do. Vecita's a lot of fun, sometimes."
"See?" Arthur asks her.
Arthur then turns to his parents and asks "How is Curtis doing anyway, do you know?".
"He's doing great," says Jane. "In fact he asks about you a lot."
"Really?" asks Arthur.
"Yeah," says David, "in fact you even spoke to him on the phone a few times."
"Oh yeah," Arthur says, "I remember some of the conversations we've had."
"And he's excited to see you again," says Jane.
"Cool!" says Arthur.
"Do they have a little girl?" asks D.W.
"As a matter of fact," says Jane, "they do. Her name is D.J."
"D.J huh?" asks D.W. "What's it short for?"
"It's short for Danielle Jordanna," says Jane, "but I think she prefers to be called D.J., just like you prefer to be called D.W., right."
"Yes," says D.W.
"They also have a baby that's Kate's age," says David, "but a little older, and is a boy."
"What's his name?" asks D.W.
Arthur want to know too.
"Julius," says David, "right Jane?"
"Yeah," says Jane, "Julius is his name.
"I don't mind long drives," says Arthur, "but I can't wait to get there!"
"Neither can I son," says David.
Not far away is a railroad crossing with two tracks crossing. The cantilever signal lights and the gate lights appear and start flashing (except the lights on the tips of the gate arms that remain solid). The bells also ring but the Reads don't hear them yet. Then the gates start to descend. A few drivers though, drive under the lowering gates, two drivers going in the same direction as the reads and three drivers traveling the opposite direction. It's against the law, but like many real people in our world, some of the Elwood City natives and other Arthur character all over the world are impatient and don't care.
Anyway, Jane pulls up to the crossing and stops fifteen feet from the tracks before one of the gates goes down in front of her.
"Oh great!" says D.W. "We have to wait for another train! I hope this one doesn't take too long!"
"I know you don't like waiting for trains to go by, D.W.," says Jane, "but we have to, it's safe and it's the law to do so."
Then the horn blasts before and as the lead locomotive roars through the crossing carrying three more locomotives, two blue ones and two red ones, and a long string of various freight cars. There are box cars, tanker cars, covered hopper cars, auto-carrying cars, open hopper cars, and some gondola cars.
"I wish Buster was here to see this," says Arthur, "he'd love this."
What the Reads don't know is Bitzy and Buster are waiting on the other side of the same crossing for this train to go by and they too are the first ones at the gate. In fact they pull up to the crossing after the train locomotives fly by.
Buster and his mother count the cars, "six, seven, eight, nine…"
Meanwhile, back on the Reads' side of the crossing, they are waiting patiently for the long freight train to pass by, except maybe D.W. Kate though is too young to care. The train horn doesn't even make her cry although she would if she and whoever was with her were pedestrians because of the train horns and the noise of the clickety-clack as the train runs by.
The train takes about four minutes and twenty-three seconds to pass by. After the train clears the crossing, Jane and David look at one of the cars waiting at the opposite gate.
"Isn't that Bitzy's car?" Jane asks.
"Looks like it," says David.
"Maybe Buster's in there," says Arthur.
"Don't get your hopes up," says D.W.
Meanwhile, six seconds after the last car of the train passes and since there's no train coming despite there being two tracks, the bells go silent and the gates begin to rise back up and all the lights stop flashing once the gates 99 percent of the way up.
As Jane starts to drive across the tracks, she and David see Bitzy in the car crossing the other direction. Jane and Bitzy give two brief beeps of their horns and the Reads and the Baxters wave to each other. Arthur and Buster even see each other briefly as they pass by waving to each other.
Then Arthur decides to call Buster on his cell phone.
"Hey Arthur," Buster answers.
"Hey Buster," says Arthur, "how are you?"
"Good," answers Buster, "and you?"
"I'm good too," says Arthur. "So how many train cars did you count?"
"I counted 115 cars," says Buster, "along with the four engines."
"Wow!" says Arthur.
"Yeah," says Buster, "this train was even longer than the train we waited for when we went on that camping trip."
"I think you're right," says Arthur. "Well, gotta go. See ya."
"See ya Arthur," says Buster.
And they hang up.
The Reads continue on their trip to their friend's house.
Author's Notes: This was another planned Arthur/ Railroad Crossing fanfic. This time I decided to have the story take place within Elwood City and decided to keep it the full Read Family, at least in the Read Family Car. I was planning to have the Reads go somewhere across town but for a long time I didn't know and couldn't decide where to send them. Then I decided to have them visit some made-up old friends, which I am now planning to write about in a future fanfic, and I'll even reveal the character's last names and what animals they are, but NO SNEAK PEAKS! My lips are sealed until that story gets written, if it gets written. And I decided to have them be old neighbors that moved across town more than four years prior to this setting.
I could have had Arthur and his family go to a shopping center across town, or better yet a mall, or to a very important meeting or other important event, or anywhere. But why send them some place they can go on their side of town? Well it's true I could have sent them somewhere that wasn't on their side of town, like another Mall besides Mill Creek if there's another Mall in Elwood City and why not? Tucson, Arizona has four malls that I know of. And Elwood City has 15 schools so I've read, I think.
Now I wonder if Elwood City is larger or smaller than Tucson. I'm also wondering if there are really any railroad crossings in Elwood City (I hope so) and if so how many there are, which ones have lights, bells, and gates, which ones just have lights and bells, and which ones just have the crossbuck sign. That I think I'll have to continue using my imagination on, but I do hope to at least have my first question of "If there are any" answered, I'm way too curious.
I also decided to make this railroad crossing have cantilever crossing signals, those large railroad crossing signals that have an arm that extends over the roadway and has a set or two or sometimes three of flashing lights over one or two of the lanes before crossing the tracks. Even though I've seen many railroad crossings on several cartoons, some having American-like crossing signals, I've never once seen a cantilever signal on any cartoon and it would be nice to see one on a cartoon for once, whether on Arthur or any other cartoon.
Also, next time you're waiting at a railroad crossing, if time, and traffic, allow, watch and see if the lights turn completely off before the gates stop moving when they go up.
Thanks for reading.
For Railfans and other Interested Readers Only
Details about the crossing, signals and gates: As you read, both crossing signals are cantilever signals. These are old cantilever signals but these were installed in the early 1980s. Both signals each have 2 white crossbuck signs, one on the cantilever arm, and one on the pole; a white 2 Track sign (which I guess I could have made black but maybe another story) underneath the crossbuck on the poles. Both signals also have a set of forward and rear facing lights on the tip of the cantilever arm and a set of forward and rear facing lights on the pole (how I like it best). All lights were 12" with 24" backgrounds (some of us railfans refer to them as 12x24 lights and those lights are installed on the newer signals, especially on major railroads in America) and the lights are incandescent, fading in and out as they flash. The cantilever signals both have mechanical bells, however on the Reads' side of the crossing has one is a Western Cullen Hayes mechanical bell and the other on the Baxter's side has a Safetran mechanical bell. And both gates are the single-bar type gates with reflective slanted red and white stripes with three red 4" incandescent lights. The crossing was a four lane crossing so the gates in this story were longer than the gates in my previous Arthur/Railroad Crossing story.
More Arthur/Railroad Crossing stories and other railroad crossing stories of other cartoons to come.