Laura M. Carpenter

Throw Momma On the Train

Laura M. Carpenter

Throw Momma On the Train
L 18” x W 24” D 2 1/8”

Associate Professor of Sociology
Vanderbilt University

Full Biography >

My mother grew up hearing stories about her father’s big adventure “Out West.”
In 1924, the 18-year-old farm boy who would become my grandfather set off to
see the United States. Jim and a couple of buddies started hopping freight
trains, heading from Maryland to Montana, California to Arkansas, and
everywhere in between. Grandad came home for good in 1925, and never again
lived more than 20 miles from where he grew up. Like her dad, my mom has
lived in Maryland her entire life. Unlike him, she never traveled far herself,
leaving the eastern seaboard only a handful of times, and then going no further
west than Tennessee. That is, until 2018, when she and I, at the ripe ages of 79
and 48, set off together to trace the route our (grand)dad and his pals took
almost a century before. More than 7,000 miles and multiple trains, planes, and
automobiles later, Mom has her own adventure stories to tell. I do, too.