Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Anyone Here Want to Board Train 393?

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I’ve just gotten off Amtrak train No. 393 in Mattoon, Illinois. Although I grew up here, I haven’t lived in this city since 1983.

I’m here to visit my Dad and aside from the fact that I like train travel, taking Amtrak is a convenient way to journey to my former hometown.

I set my luggage down and got out my camera to snap a few images of the train at the former Illinois Central Railroad station.

I didn’t have anything in particular in mind that I wanted to portray other than another day at another train station in another place.

Most of the images that I made were nothing special, but as I reviewed those impromptu photographs this one stood out.

What makes this photograph for me is the conductor. My eyes are drawn to him and in turn up the steps and aboard the train in a sort of beckoning to travel.

The conductor might be saying something to the man in the blue shirt in the foreground or he might be looking to see if anyone wants to board his train.

Most of the passengers shown here are disembarking and had boarded the train at its point of origin, Chicago Union Station.

I don’t remember if anyone boarded No. 393, which in the Amtrak timetable carries the name the Illini.

Momentarily, the conductor will speak into his radio, “highball No. 393,” and the train will proceed to its next stop in Effingham en route to its destination of Carbondale, Illinois.

I’ll have greeted my Dad and we’ll have gone out to dinner to begin catching up on what has been going on in our respective lives.


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