14 responses

  1. Very nice. But in Nebraska, you can’t do this. Or this, with a bird’s eye view of the bird on a different flight.

    And there’s a town in Colorado that has a different view of those airborne cameras.

    Eric Hines

  2. Well, that’s just about funny; and I’m just about ignorant. I, of course, have never been to the Bailey Yard, so what would I know? I read about it long ago in John McPhee’s two-part New Yorker article, “Coal Trains.” But I did send some friends by for a look-see when they were out that way summer before last– for which I have a Bailey Yard t-shirt.
    I did not notice the train car at the base of the tower. I must be too deeply into hunting snipes — fed habeas corpus. (I’ve even bagged two snipes in a row, even if they aren’t very good eating.) I thought that was a prison watchtower. So, I guess I have to shallow-up, as they say.


  3. Michael,

    Don’t feel bad. When I lived out near North Platte, a few cowboy friends of mine referred to the Bailey Yard as the “hump yard.” As a railroad guy, you know what a hump track is and so did we. But that didn’t stop of us from laughing are asses off anytime someone spoke about “the hump yard”–indeed, we just drank more Coors.

    Incidentally, how was the snipe? I bet they are good eatin’ especially when fried and sauteed in butter. Sorta like Rocky Mountain oysters.

    All the best.


  4. When we moved from (upstate) New York to Nebraska, the essential truth of <a href = "http://www.condenaststore.com/-sp/The-New-Yorker-Cover-View-of-the-World-from-9th-Avenue-March-29-1976-Prints_i8553097_.htm&quot; the famous New Yorker magazine cover was driven home to me. When I told them that I had been appointed Dean of the Creighton Law School in Omaha, most of them didn’t know the state in which Omaha was located. Oklahoma was the most popular choice, followed by Ohio and Nebraska in a dead heat for second. I think the alliteration was the lure here.

    I suppose we should be grateful that Nebraska actually appears in the cover as sort of a generic term for the country west of the Hudson and east of the Pacific Ocean.

    But the stunner to most of the folks with whom I kept in touch was how impossibly beautiful Nebraska is. Anyone who think it’s flat needs to get off of I-80 and drive through the Sand Hills (which might be the most beautiful place on Earth) or through the Wildcat Range to see Chimney Rock and Jailhouse Rock. The least one can do is to watch this video. I have seen it before and it still gives me chills.

    I have lived in Nebraska now longer than I have lived in any other place. I have had chances to leave and I will not. It took me until age 37, but I finally found home. Best, Pat.

    P.S. I know what a “hump” track is, and I never worked in a yard, didn’t look it up on Google, but was something of a railroad buff growing up.

  5. Hey, I’m just a country lawyer in south central Indiana. I grew up in Washington, D.C. Indiana almost literally didn’t exist for me. There was R. Dean Taylor’s classic “Indiana Wants Me,” and that was about it. I guess Indiana did exist to the extent that I noticed once, in an auto-insurance ad, some folks drove from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Ohio to Illinois. Indiana was completely missing. So I guess I had learned my U.S. geography correctly. And when, long ago, I was driving between Washington and Chicago, Indiana was just a place to go through and get past, since there was no way to avoid it.

    Then I came to Bloomington for 10 weeks one summer to start learning Russian. At the end of the summer, I went back to Chicago, packed up, and moved to Bloomington. With some time off for good behavior for academic sojourns in Leningrad and Warsaw, I’ve been here ever since. I even suffered the two-hour commute to Indianapolis for three years rather than move.

    Nobody knows where Bloomington is either. Most people think Illinois.

    But it is really something to have my 13-year-old son remark from time to time as I drive him home from school, “Poppa, we live in a really beautiful place.” Well, we do. But Nebraska is in a whole different category. Still ain’t movin’.

    If you want flat, not much can be flatter than glacier-scrubbed northern Indiana. Southern Indiana, south of the terminal moraine, is something else altogether. But again, Nebraska is in a whole different category. Also the birthplace and boyhood home of one of my idols: Loren Eiseley.

  6. Pat,

    I first came to Nebraska at 18 on the “Hound” as they used to call the bus. I dropped off at Grand Island, and then was driven to Kearney (as in Carney not Kerny). Once enrolled at Kearney State College, as the first and only person ever to have been admitted to that institution on academic probation, I never looked back. That was just about 49 years ago.

    As for the Sandhills, there is no place in the entire world that is more likely to stir the soul. About an hour north of Broken Bow, if you get out of your car on an early morning in late Spring and walk a hundred yards or so up to the top of one of the hills and then look out westerly on the vast expanse of rolling grass and emerging wild flowers extending to the horizon, one can imagine the world when it was new. Racing a BN coal train along Highway 2 for mile after mile after mile and never seeing another car (or person) brings back the kid in you. But, don’t forget to get gas in Thedford.

    All the best.


  7. Michael,

    Don’t play that country lawyer card with me, my friend–been there, done that. It’s fun though!

    As for Loren Eiseley (the Nebraska born and educated anthropologist, educator, philosopher, and natural science writer), you are right to idolize him. I do too, and in spades.

    I believe I have read all of his prose and poetry. For my money, the best book ever written, by anyone, anytime, anywhere, is the Immense Journey. Remember the skull looking out at Eiseley as he smoked his pipe in the Slit? If anyone goes to their grave not having read that book, they will be sorry. I mean that.

    Thanks for the comment. I enjoyed the story of your finding Indiana. Having spent half my growing up years in northwestern Ohio, I know exactly what you mean.

    All the best.


  8. Ahh. The Immense Journey. The first Eiseley book I encountered, given to me by my father. The skull I certainly remember. But also The Snout, from which we all came. And it is, certainly, one of the best books ever.

    I was extremely disappointed when I arrived as an undergraduate in Classics at the University of Pennsylvania, and Eiseley was already ill and had stopped teaching. But I have his books. I read All the Strange Hours, his autobiography, every year. Haven’t read the Immense Journey in a while. Think I’ll go back and do that.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    And I *am* just a country lawyer. Sometimes the question is just which country.

  9. Michael,

    Your reference to being at the University of Pennsylvania near the end of his life, reminded me. If you haven’t already, read Another Kind of Autumn (1977, Scribner), a book of poems published in the final year of Eiseley’s life, reflecting “affection for the living world, respect for the past, and hope for humanity.”

    That also reminds me of something else. Years ago, I was asked to speak at a funeral for a dear friend cut down too early in an auto accident. My entire talk was based upon one of those evocative poems. I don’t think it went over very well in the conservative Lutheran church where the funeral was being conducted. But that was OK because the poem spoke the truth in a manner that only Eiseley could articulate in words.

    All the best.


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