Empty Station – Chicago 1979

At the last meeting of Renegade Writers we ended up chatting about being on empty stations at night, the eery quality of the experience. I remembered a photo I took on the L in Chicago in January 1979. My train from Seattle had arrived 30 hours late due to intense cold, the picture below is of the wheel of the carriage I was in when the train had stopped at Minneapolis/St.Paul and the temperature showed -32, that is Fahrenheit not Centigrade! I arrived in Chicago at about 1am, and was staying up in Evanston and the only way up there was the L, which remarkably was still running. The rather shaky long exposure shot is I think of Quincy station, next to Union Station, I always thought I was standing there alone, but on this photograph, taken with my Olympus OM-1, there is a man sweeping the snow away on the opposite platform. A train eventually arrived and when I eventually got to my friends’ apartment, who were then students (later Declan Quinn became a well known film cameraman and his brother Aiden a quite famous actor), I couldn’t wake them, remember there were no mobiles in those days, but luckily a few blocks away a cheap hotel was open, and the night porter had been a swimmer at the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, my home address was still Cardiff. It then snowed even heavier overnight, at the time the TV said it was the coldest and heaviest snow on record, but the sun came out with intense cold and the light was stunning. On the picture of Declan waist deep in snow the flat icy area behind is the frozen over Lake Michigan. Chicago was completely cut off for a few days, nothing moved. It was quite an experience.

Scanned at www.exposure22.com

Scanned at www.exposure22.com

Scanned at www.exposure22.com

Scanned at www.exposure22.com

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