Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stop, Look, and Listen


As a child growing up in Chicago in the 1950's, I fell in love with trains. There was a huge model railroad layout at the Museum of Science and Industry and I would press my nose to the glass and let my imagination ride the rails. My excitement with trains intensified because of the many railroad crossings in and around the city. My father, behind the wheel of our 1953 Chevy, twinkle-eyed, feigned irritation at being inconvenienced whenever we were held up by these long multicolored slow-moving freights. I would feel so happy I could burst. The sound of the bell ringing and the flashing lights, some crossings with gates, some without, or the rural crossing with the big white wooden X sign meant the possibility that a beloved train was coming. The train brought me validation and much needed emotional comfort. I counted cars, learned the names of rail lines, types of cars and cargo, lots of geography and exotic words such as gondola.
One of the appeals of living in Bend, Oregon, is that the Burlington Northern, Santa Fe has a line through town. I hear the train horn and immediately feel the urge to find my way to the tracks.
In this picture of a southbound freight, I liked the juxtaposition of the BNSF letters on the diesel engine and the bumper sticker on the pickup which says "Hooters." I suppose there is weighty symbolism here, but for today, the photo's focus is on movement color and sound. Feel the red signals winking back and forth, the low purr of the bright orange engines, the repetitious song from the crossing sign, the hum of the waiting cars' motors, and the beating of my childhood heart.

3 comments:

Jacob said...

One of the biggest mistakes this country made under DDE was to ignore railroads in favor of Interstate Highways!

Maybe the railroads will come back.

I love trains, too!

Small City Scenes said...

The BNSF rolls through Stanwood too. I like to count all the cars on the freight trains. The Amtrk swooshes through too fast and never more than 10 cars. I Think the longest freight train I counted recently was 170 cars.
MB

Should Fish More said...

As a kid, my friends and I would go to the railroad near Franklin St., and ask the workers if we could have a watermelon off the cars carrying produce from up around Hermiston. Bend in the 50's was a bucolic existance for a kid.