My newest book, Union Station, is set in my hometown of Brownsville, Pennsylvania. The story centers around one building–the Union Station building. The railroad station was built in 1929 at a time when the small river town along the Monongahela was busting with business and growth.
The stories in Union Station span seven decades from the opening of the building to its closing. In a conversation on a Brownsville, PA Facebook page, I learned that people still hold fond memories of their relationship to the Union Station–their doctors, dentists, hair salon, floral shop, and the railroad offices all located within those walls. Until 1951, passenger train service brought people from Pittsburgh to Brownsville for shopping and to conduct business.
Now struggling to survive and once again thrive–people of Brownsville are resilient and hopeful–the town has undergone a descent into the depths of despair and has begun a rise again. New businesses, residents invested in breathing life back into town, and high school students who made it their purpose to create a park and performance stage–all continue to contribute to the life in Brownsville.
This hamlet on the river will always be home to me, no matter where I hang my hat. I wrote Union Station to first honor my father, Dale R. Rettstatt, Jr., a WWII veteran and long-time employee of the Monongahela Railroad who worked in the Union Station building for years. I also dedicate the book to the people of Brownsville who choose to believe in what is possible and put their efforts into restoring life to our little town.
My stories in Union Station are fiction, but set in the facts of the times in which they occur. Parts are likened to what life was like, and some are imaginings of what could be. The characters are not unlike the people who have lived there over the years. I gave the building its own voice as she–yes, she–shares her observations on the life that passes through her lobby and occurs within her walls. We often hear people say, “If only those walls could talk.” What if they can? What if is the question that I believe launches every work of fiction. What if? I think that, if those walls could talk, they would tell stories such as those included in Union Station.
I hope these stories entertain, give you something to think about, bring you to both laughter and tears, and leave you with some sense of hope for whatever place is home for you.
Union Station will be available on October 8 in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com.