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  • Bill Chastain

Churchill on a Train

PBS has grand plans for “Churchill’s Secret,” a movie based on the book “The Churchill Secret: KBO,” which is set in the summer of 1953. Winston Churchill is trying to recover from a stroke and nobody knows he’s had a stroke.

Seeing that news reminded me of my grandfather’s encounter with the famed Prime Minister.

Churchill_HU_90973 Churchill in 1944

My grandfather, H.C. Wyatt, held the position of executive vice president for Norfolk & Western Railroad, which earned him the name “Daddy Choo Choo” from his grandchildren. Among the perks of the job was a private car at the back of the train. Since his car trumped the caboose, you could sit in the living room at the back of that car and watch the tracks disappear on the horizon.

The car included a staff, a dinning room and multiple guest rooms. I don’t know if such luxuries exist on trains today, but I’ve never traveled in said fashion since.

Daddy Choo Choo occasionally entertained customers and influential people on his car. Churchill became one such passenger.

Churchill smoked cigars and killed the scotch throughout the visit, prompting my grandfather to ask him for an estimate about how much scotch he had consumed in his life. Without missing a beat, Churchill held his hand about waist-high then stone-faced replied: “About up to here.”

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