Overgrown and forgotten.

Time bends around this time of year.

It always does. My memory brings events to the forefront. Things I had safely tucked away.

It’s Mother’s Day weekend. Social media is full of pictures of other people’s moms. I probably will post one as well. It’s a signature picture.

Yesterday I railed (see what I did there with the picture and the words) about the traps of social media. Today, I’ll tell you that there are some good points. Our good points. The users’ good points. Not the companies.

The best good thing is social media is as an anniversary reminder. Time passes. People heal. My mom passed in 1996. A long time ago. I was in Hong Kong at the time. I returned home to find a message on my land line telephone recorder. My aunt called me. It was a couple of days old. I returned her call almost before I put my luggage down.

I returned to Hong Kong after I completed all that I needed to do, including take care of my dad who was living in an assisted living home. It was a sort of tract home that had five residents and about 12 caregivers. It was so comfortable that I wanted to live there. He seemed to enjoy it.

Back in Hong Kong,my friends looked after me. My main job was to produce books. My secondary job (Yes. I was busy) was to work work a Chinese travel magazine and photo agency. My main colleague there told me something that I think of today. She said, “When somebody dies who is over 80, we laugh.” That is the literal translation from Mandarin which really means “don’t mourn, celebrate their life.” My mom passed at 80.

You know, I was told it would take about five years before I would stop thinking of her almost daily. Whoever said that was right. But. Oh, you knew this was coming. That lasted for a good while. Then, it started to change. I don’t miss her like I did during those early years. But, I miss her in different ways. There’s things I’d like to ask her. For advise. For direction. I wish that she met the wonderful people in my life. Who came later.

The picture.

I know you are wondering what this picture has to do with my mom. We traveled by train almost every summer of my early days from Los Angeles to New York City. The trains of my youth were The El Capitan, The Super Chief and a little later, The City of Los Angeles. They are mostly gone now. Some of their names live on through Amtrak, but they aren’t the same. For one thing, “dining in the diner” meant something back then. Sheesh, the City of Los Angeles used goldware, none of that tacky old silverware. The food was great and cooked to order. You dressed up to go eat.


This is symbolic. An old passenger car, hidden behind an overgrown fence. Abandoned and mostly forgotten, except by me. Just like my memories.

Technically speaking, the baby Leica did well in the rain. But, it really wasn’t more than just point and shoot. The Leica engineers in their kind of arrogant way, actually built a setting into it that is called “snapshot.” I laugh, but with auto everything cameras, how much of street photography is just that?


You don't see these every day.
You don’t see these every day.

They moved it.

In fact, they actually seem to be building a passenger train consist. A train of retro cars. How cool is that? Three silver-sided streamline passenger cars and one former Union Pacific streamliner. This yellow car was a big deal in the 1950s. It likely said goodbye to regular passenger service when Amtrak took over in 1971. Now, a private group owns these cars and has busily been restoring them.

You’ve seen the streamline tail end club car here. In a past post. The bottom picture is one version that you’ve seen. Probably back in about June. I’ve photographed it multiple times, in all kinds of light. Most low, blue or golden light.

I’m not sure what they are doing with these cars. There are a number of private train companies who attach cars to the end of an Amtrak train for private trips. There also one or two private railroad companies who lease mainline track time for special chartered trains. Since I haven’t seen any engines around from the streamline era, I’m guessing the cars will be attached to regular Amtrak passenger service.

The picture. The top picture. When I saw these cars next to the road in the lowish and very bright, contrasty sunlight, I saw them as a graphic composition. So that’s what I went after. That was my intent. It was probably the only way that I saw them. That’s how I explored the picture. My new photo buddy (from yesterday’s post) told me that he lives close by. He heard the train crew moving the cars around earlier that day. I guess that I was lucky. But, not that lucky. I would have liked to have photographed these cars being moved around.

Golden light in the old train yard.
Golden light in the old train yard.