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Friday, February 5, 2021

What I'm Watching: Trains That Passed in the Night

Hotshot Eastbound, by O. Winston Link, 1956; fair-use image from Wikipedia

I don't have much to say these days.  I did my part to restore our democracy and decency by casting my ballot for Joe Biden; and thank God he was duly elected and is now our President.  It's a big, big job to lead and heal this nation - especially in this new era of confusion and chaos, folly and fraudulence.  May God bless and sustain him, and all who are working for justice, unity, and peace.

M.P. and I, though, have declared a moratorium on news-watching and discussion thereof.  Even though good people are in power once again, the rising tide of arrogance, ignorance, and downright evil spreads so far and wide, like a second plague, that it just upsets us both out of all patience.  But there is no point ranting and raving about it, disrupting the tranquility of our little home and our peace of mind.  So although there are many things I could say about the insanity of the modern world, I prefer not to.

It was remarkable, a year ago, how palpably one felt a new era rumble into being:  plague, poverty, riots, politics, all the hammer blows that changed the world happening at once.  And all of it ghastly.  I very much feel that I do not belong here:  not a century I like or want to live in.  The twentieth century was certainly not perfect; but in suburban America, at least, up until sometime in the 1960s, the world seemed to be operating on fairly stable, rational lines, faith in progress was still possible, and beauty was not yet an unspeakable word.  And then somehow, though material things abounded, something of the spirit seemed to be withering away, and the center lost its hold.  Let the reader understand.

Now the whole world seems a darkling plain, swept with confused alarms; when shall we wake from this nightmare?  The future seems dim and doubtful to me; but in the midst of uncertainty we must hope for the best and do what we can.

Like many another old-timer, no doubt, I spend much of my time reading and thinking about the world that was, before everything got so very, very ugly:  old trains, old cars, old houses, old movies, and so forth.  I don't want to turn this blog into a "vintage" site - there are too many of those already - but in the absence of political talk, I may from time to time post some vintage things just to have something nice to show and tell, pleasantries which have nothing to do with present unpleasantness.  

Here is a fascinating video about the photographer O. Winston Link, whom all railfans revere as the patron saint of the steam locomotive.  In the latter half of the 1950's, he documented the last days of steam on the last major railroad to abandon coal-burners, and created a marvelous, magical record of a way of life now changed utterly, a time lost forever.  

I was born just a few years too late to see steam locomotives at work, but Link's photography takes me back there - and away from this fierce, frightful modern world for a little while.  I've known about Link's work for many years, but this is the first time I've heard him speak - a treat for me.


The video is blurry, unfortunately, but all of Link's original photos were quite sharp and clear as crystal.  If anyone wants to see more of Link's superb photography, I can recommend his book, Steam, Steel, and Stars, very highly. 



Frank said...

I can't say I've stopped watching news or reading news articles but I no longer do so with the compulsive need to be informed of the daily atrocities and evil doings of the former president and his incompetent, destructive administration. There is at least some sense of relief knowing that adults are mostly in charge.

Russ Manley said...

Yes, adults are back in the room now, thank goodness. But what a mess to clean up!

And gross misbehavior must be punished - otherwise the delinquents will only do it again the first chance they get. Liberty is a fine thing - but there must be justice, too. Liberty is not license. Democracy is not anarchy. The Constitution is not a suicide pact.

But I'll stop right there.

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