“[The trains] would stop for no reason, and everyone would pile off [to see why]… and if it didn’t move again for another two hours, so what? … There were no deadlines.” 

Ruth Inez Wilson was born in Birmingham, England in 1935.  At age three, her parents decided to become missionaries, and moved to the Congo.  At age six she moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, for school.  She returned to England and the end of secondary school and reunited with her parents.  Her final education was in nursing school before she married and moved to New Jersey.

Her childhood was really something.  Growing up in Congo, there weren’t the amenities the UK or the United States were enjoying.  She has a real appreciation for those changes.  Listen to her talk about the radio and cars coming into her life (ironic that a car drives by in the background when she talks about them):

Ruth recalled the train that used to run from Johannesburg all the way to Cairo.  She took it several times in her life.  She said it was different, then.  One might expect to eat prime rib in the dining carriage, and to sleep in comfort each night.  It was a time when people weren’t in a rush.  The train might make several unexpected stops during the trip, either for supplies or for herds that were crossing the tracks.  Sometimes it would stop for no reason at all.  Everyone on the train would pile off to see what was going on and to talk with their co-passengers.  Due to war, it is unclear if the full train line still exists.  She tells it better than I.

Ruth strongly feels we’ve lost the understanding of leisure time due to the fast pace of technology in today’s society.  Instead of getting off the train and sharing stories, today’s passengers would likely stay sitting impatiently while browsing their smartphone.  Ruth especially sees this affecting children.  She notes that they don’t go outside to play like they used to.  During her youth and that of her children, kids were able to run and play where they liked, and made up their own games.  Ruth fears that this lack of interaction and imagination will have a lasting affect on our society.