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Edition #214  January 15, 2014

Grief on Rail

Photographer: Harry L. Taplin

                                                                                                   Photo by Harry L. Taplin

Grief on Rail

It remains one of the more unusual and touching encounters of my life. One day in July (the 24th to be exact) of 2011, I was driving around looking for sites to photograph. Usually such a drive takes me to local tracksides where it’s more than likely that there will be a passing freight train with many, many box cars that have met up with an assortment of graffiti experts.

One could construct a lexicon of the terms one is likely to see – for example, raket, ich (followed by an exclamation point with a skull serving where one might expect a period)… On this particular day I was passing a low railroad overpass (warning 8 ft – not tall enough for most trucks) when I saw this young woman sobbing her heart out. Quickly, I found a place to park and grabbed my camera – just in case. The woman seemed totally unaware of my presence. There were many questions I could ask: had she lost a husband, a fiancée, a lover, or had she recently lost her child, a parent, a best friend?  

I decided not to intrude on her grief, but quickly took this one shot. As I drove away, a glance in my mirror indicated that she hadn’t moved. I could only hope – and pray – that somewhere along the many miles of rails that she might have left to travel someone would be able to assuage her grief.

Harry L. Taplin

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