Thursday, July 1, 2010

. . . shall be scrap and rust

 Limited from Chicago Poems (1916)
         ~by Carl Sandburg

    I am riding on a limited express, one of the crack trains
          of the nation.
    Hurtling across the prairie into blue haze and dark air
          go fifteen all-steel coaches holding a thousand people.
    (All the coaches shall be scrap and rust and all the men
          and women laughing in the diners and sleepers shall
          pass to ashes.)
    I ask a man in the smoker where he is going and he
          answers: "Omaha."

crack - adjective
INFORMAL. excelling in skill or performance; first-rate: a crack shot, crack troops


This is another of the photographs taken by my uncle, James H. Swearingen, in 1923 on the "family transcontinental trip by auto."  Please come back for an upcoming post featuring a Fourth of July piece from Uncle Jim's memories recorded on tape in 1982.

He sure was something special and I'm grateful I had more than a few opportunities to spend time with him before he passed to ashes . . .



izzy said...

Carl Sandburg was a favorite growing up- when the rule in class was memorizing 1 poem a week, (to recite in class) I struggled to save the mimeographed collection/notebook of poems, handed out. I managed to keep Louis Untermeyer's book " A Singing World" , which was our text in 2nd grade English...
The train photo is marvelous- recently I have become fascinated again, with the world of 'engines'.A tough subject in a way, because they do not classify
trains by 'makers',(ford/chevy) like cars! Thanks.

La Belette Rouge said...

Your Uncle Jim had an amazing eye. There is something very poignant about the photo. I think it is the distance he kept from the train---that really evokes longing and distance and missing. Really beautiful.

Lydia said...

izzy~ Fascinating comment! You were fortunate to attend a school with the one a week memorization rule. "A Singing World".....I'll Google that one, and you keep your copy safely tucked away!
Never thought of train engines as not having/having names as cars. :)

La Belette Rouge~ I agree with you about his photographic eye and sense of perspective. It's as if he had a sense that he was capturing a very fleeting time. He went on to be a successful interior decorator for major California department stores, and then he and his wife continued in design while owning a fine furniture store in Mill Valley, CA.

Owen said...

Lovely old photo... and made me think of ...

"Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders, three conductors and 25 sacks of mail..."

Lydia said...

Owen~ Ah! Now you have me humming the song to myself... :)

Erin Davis said...

It's been a while since I have partaken of Sandburg. And the photo is perfect. Thanks!

Lydia said...

Erin~ I hadn't thought to read any Sandburg for a long time. Looong time! This was a goodie, and my uncle's photo is special indeed.



Related Posts with Thumbnails