It’s hard to see in the photograph but there is actually a train track in the background and in Wilmore KY there are still trains that run on this track. Going from one place to another in the endless pursuit of moving goods and people closer to where they are needed. Using the Dragan effect to make the photo more dramatic takes the viewer back a few years. Back to when all train tracks had a purpose and those who ran the trains served the country from coast to coast.
So RxR in this context is the typical sign that indicates a train crossing.
What is it about the sights and sounds of trains that peeked interest early that morning in Wilmore? It was the evolution of what trains and train tracks mean. It was the changing of viewpoint and the hint of other perspectives that have changed over time.
As a child, the joys and excitement of opening up a train set and the frustrations and delight of setting up the tracks, the mountains, the trestles, the people, cars and towns were nothing compared to sensation and passion of running the trains on the tracks. Taking the tracks and nailing them down to a plywood sheet and adding more accessories to make the scenery appear real and give the trains some stability made it a permanent fixture that could be enjoyed year round. Hours were spent with one locomotive chasing another, stopping at a water tower or coal depot to pretend they were being refueled, and turning on lights and lowering guard arms to prevent cars from being on the track when the train sped by.
In real-life, there were occasions as we drove down the highway when a train ran parallel to our car. Or as we slowed down to a railroad crossing the guard arms would start their descent and the lights would begin flashing a warning – a prelude to a trains’ arrival. Sitting there waiting for the train to come and hearing the train’s whistle produced feelings of excitement, anticipation, impatience to see the train, and even a bit of fear if we were next to the track when the train zipped by.
And at the arrival of the train at the crossing we would watch in amazement and wonder as the locomotive and its trailing cars passed in front of us. The sound of the clickity-clack of each car as the train made its way down the track was a comforting sound. We spent time counting the train cars, watching cars with automobiles loaded on them, marveling at the ore-loaded cars, and as the finale viewing the caboose roll by. As one of the passengers in the waiting automobile at the RxR sign, it was time well spent in awe of these large pieces of machinery with their cargo, commuters and handlers made their way down the track.
So where is the evolution? Learning to drive began the development of how train crossings were experienced.
- From wonder to impatience at having to wait.
- From excitement to frustration at the impact on schedules and appointments.
- From wait and watch to scurry to find a way over, under or around any train.
- From counting cars to gnashing of teeth at how many cars were attached to the locomotive.
- From enjoying the clickity-clack to annoyance at the time “wasted” sitting there waiting for the caboose to finally pass and for “life” to get back on track.
That day in Wilmore the question arose as to how many other experiences of joy, excitement, wonder, and marvel of youth have been dimmed or extinguished by time, the way life is lived and the way the world is viewed. What other activities have given way to busy schedules, the desire to control circumstances, the needless fears and other life experiences?
So as I sat there I realized that the RxR signs were really set up to remind us to Rest & Reflect: to take a moment to re-visit childhood feelings and re-capture a sense of amazement and awe at and in the world around us.
Now, if that train would just hurry up…
Reflection on youthful passion about trains and the change of perspective with the advent of time: from wonder, excitement, and fun to irritation, frustration and impatience. Examining the other RxR signs in life that remind us to Rest & Reflect: to take a moment to re-visit childhood feelings and re-capture a sense of amazement and awe at and in the world around us.