Chasing trains

Harry topped off his Thanksgiving feast with a project he looked forward to every year. The stack of VHS tapes beside his TV contained this year’s travels.

SeasonsHarry had spent the summer with his wife hunting down trains and filming striking angles of trains thundering past him.

He selected campsites based on their closeness the train tracks and he had pulled himself out of bed before dawn to set up some of the shots.

Now it was time for the editing. 

Harry pulled his legal pad in front of him and began taking notes. He played a tape, stopping to jot the location of cuts and edits.

Two weeks into the process, his wife checked in. “Do you have good footage this year?”

“Oh, yeah, this shot of the steam engine against the sunrise is stunning.” He leaned toward the television and flicked his remote control.

In three weeks, he had created a master tape containing trains churning across his screen in the mountains, on the plains, at dawn, at midnight.

“All right, Dear, you have to see this!” He pointed to the TV screen as the train images blasted across it. “This is the newest tape.”

Harry spent a week making a stack of copies of his master tape and distributed them to family and friends.  He wrapped each VHS tape in layers of tissue paper and stuck a red bow on top.

Many got a train tape under their Christmas tree.

In January, Harry had a stroke. 

Harry has now stowed his camera in a back closet and donated his camper. He shuffles from the recliner to the refrigerator, leaning on a walker. 

But he’s doing OK. He has 20 years of train tapes to review and those images are new every morning.


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