Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 25, 2017

Watching train art and time zip past

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News | May 19, 2017

Okay, I’ll admit it. Professional journalists are a different breed.

It probably has something to do with the arts. We are called cynical, biased and sarcastic. The labels may apply to some but be careful when stereotyping.

Truthfully, we aren’t much different than your average Joe, we are just seen in a different light.

One of my quirks (if you want to label it as a quirk) is the enjoyment of train art. I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, drawing stick men can be a challenge.

Despite taking “Art Appreciation” during college (it was an easy “A” and my GPA needed it), the course never deepened my appreciation of art.

That’s not to infer I don’t enjoy looking at paintings, but you will never find me in the Chicago Art Museum, or any art gallery for that means.

One form of art that I do like is train art — you know the paintings and drawing on train box cars. Recently, I was awaiting the passing of a train at a railroad crossing.

It wasn’t an overly large train in terms of number of cars, but nearly every car contained art — some being messages, others were paintings. There was one car on which a bouquet of roses was painted. It looked as beautiful as any painting I’ve seen. Okay, there might be a tad of hyperbole in that assessment, but the painting was well done.

The train, unfortunately, was in a hurry, so getting a full appreciation of the art was difficult, but I did gain more appreciation than a semester’s worth of Art Appreciation. I saw enough to rank it as one of the best art trains I have seen.

Rarely is there any “scribbling” on the boxcars. Generally, the writing is in large block letters, usually applied in several colors of paint.

I often wonder how the “artists” are afforded so much time to complete their work. Most of the good art would take several hours to apply. I also imagine there would be security around the train yards. I grew up in a community with a considerable amount of Milwaukee Railroad cars sitting around, and I know (not from experience) that getting away with painting a train car would have been difficult.

Whatever the case, I enjoy the art because it beats the frustration of being in a hurry and having to wait for a long train.

Shifting gears but staying with the theme of things moving quickly, I watched students load their things in waiting vehicles behind S-T dorm on the Iowa Wesleyan University campus a couple of weeks ago.

Most of the students were smiling as they tried to wedge that last suitcase or laptop into a backseat or trunk already bulging at the seams. I watched as one father was carefully placing his daughter’s belongings into the back of a van. The items were stacked high on several carts on the adjacent sidewalk, awaiting a trip home for the summer.

No way, I thought is this all going to fit. I mentioned as much to the father. He turned to me, smiled and with a wink told me to continue watching. Sure enough, when every item was in the van, there was room to spare.

“You must have done this before,” I said to the father. “Many times,” he answered.

It seems like it was just yesterday when I saw tanned and wide-eyed students unloading cars, trucks, trailers and vans for their year at IWU. Time is marching too quickly. Don’t you sometimes wish you could grab the hands on the clock and stop them for a few hours to enjoy the minute?

Not going to happen. It sure makes it difficult to live for the moment when that moment is a fleeting one.

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