A Life With Trains  by  John Fasulo
Dave just got me thinking... about trains. Not that I don’t think about them all the time. But why trains? Why not cars? Or airplanes? Or ships?  Well, it all started with; “Pop”. He wasn’t a mechanic; or a pilot, or a sea captain. He was a machinist; and not just any ordinary machinist. “Pop” was a machinist for the New York Central Railroad, The water-level Route. It was the home of the 20th Century Limited, the most famous train of the 20th Century; and pop fixed it when it broke. I know that because he never stopped reminding me. Almost any Saturday you could find us at the station in Beacon, our home town, waiting for the morning train to the city.

But even more exciting than the trip to NY was the stop at the Harmon Shops of the NYC RR where Pop did his magic. I remember him giving me my own personalized guided tour. It didn’t matter that we had done it time after time after time; and that I knew the monologue by heart… I never grew tired of walking through the shop, holding his hand and hearing him talk about the engines that were lined up, waiting to be fixed come Monday morning. As I got older, my love of trains was firmly set within me.

As a teenager, while others were building plastic models of cars, I was in the basement of my parent’s house building my railroad empire. My first photos were also of trains, taken with an old brownie Box camera given to me by my grandfather. When I was in my late teens, I received a new 35mm camera from him. As the years went by, I bought my own cameras and continued to photograph trains. I remember being at the cemetery when Pop past away and hearing the drone and distant horn of a passing freight; as if it were saying good bye to an old friend who had so often cared for its ailments.

I’ve been photographing trains for years since. In winter, in summer, in the rain and snow and hot sun; it doesn’t matter if its day or night, if there are trains around, I’m sure to find them.

I can hear them from our bedroom window. At night, when I’m lying in bed, their lonely call moving through the night fades in the distance as I close my eyes and fall asleep.
Trains are magic. Whether real or toys racing around the Christmas tree, they can carry you across mountains or plains; through valleys or over rivers. And, as was said so eloquently but so simply in the movie, The Polar Express, “It doesn’t matter to much where the train is going…. What matters is to make the decision to get on board”.

John Fasulo

2006
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