This old lumber truck has been the subject of many of my photographs over the last ten years. It sits at the side of a dead-end country lane in the Texas Hill country next to a family run saw mill. I first photographed it on a sunny spring day when flowers were blooming through the rotting planks of the long flat bed. The scene was quite beautiful almost like a postcard of rural tranquility.
The truck was mostly intact the first time I saw it except for the wooden planking of the bed. The key was still in the ignition like someone had thrown their work gloves on the dash and stepped out after a day’s work. The years have taken a toll on the old truck. Someone broke out the side windows and mirrors to allow rain to eat at the interior of the cab. It also looks like a raccoon nested inside one winter. The sad signs of abandonment and terminal decline are evident.
As a subject the old truck just keeps getting more photogenic with each visit. It is settling onto the landscape and becoming a little more organic, if steel can ever be said to be organic, every day. An artifact of twentieth century American manufacturing prowess turned signature of Rustbelt glory.
Somehow in the post industrial twenty first century products just appear from somewhere, who knows where, for us to enjoy. We have no need for the cold hard steel that made us who we once were. My twentieth century immigrant grandfather, uncles and cousins who worked the railroad shops as machinists and tool makers would be lost here.
There is no room for nostalgia about the twentieth century. Too soon, too many souls are still around to tell it like it was. There is insufficient time yet for history to apply varnish to the old century. There is still too much evidence left to allow for a good story.
For some reason there is always a sound track playing when I’m feeling upbeat. Funny the word upbeat was the first thing that popped into my head when thinking about good times. Probably many people have similar associations of music and mood.
The same is true for not-so-good-times as well but why dwell on that fact. When I was young and full political piss and vinegar I asked my father why he was not as motivated as I to change the world. In somewhat more vulgar terms. He took a second to respond and finally smiled and said “I’ve been down that road and now it is time to relax”. I was disappointed with his answer. Now fifty years on, it makes more sense to me. There is a quote from Churchill that could be added here but best to let you look that up for yourself.
The borderlands in far West Texas become a little poorer every day. That is strange given the amount of commerce that passes along the highways to and from Mexico. In some measure this is the result of the politics of division practiced in the United States. Small areas around the major border crossings and the maquiladoras flourish. The rest of the border is an economic desert fit only for the tit-for-tat of smugglers and authorities.
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