Sunset Of A Year, and Of Innocence – 31 December 2008

by Jim on 2013/12/31

[Jimbaux wonders how he can blame you when it is him he can’t forgive.]

A Sour Ending To A Monumental Year

We close 2008 thus, with four images, the first two at Schriever, the second at the Atchafalaya River in Berwick, and the finale at Bayou Sale, which might better be called Garden City, but I didn’t care about that when I took these pictures.  I am saying all of this now because this post really is not about these particular pictures, or at least not about the locations shown, and I will not be narrating the pictures as you see them here like I normally do; so, I remind you now that caption information for all pictures is in the filenames, which can be read by holding the mouse arrow over the pictures.  Also, two years to the day prior to taking these pictures, I took some great pictures in northern Mexico.

Newfound Foamer Orphanhood

Despite train-spotting being a largely solitary activity, for more than five years up to the day that these pictures were taken, 31 December 2008, I felt an almost constant sense of connectedness to other railroad enthusiasts (a bit different than how I still feel connected to them now), especially including those much senior to me in this so-called “hobby”; on this day, though, I felt terribly like an orphan.

Before the Sunset Limited arrived, though, there appeared to be some sugarcane burning happening east of Schriever.

Those gondolas were likely BNSF maintenance-of-way gondolas for some sort of nearby track improvement project.  Those hopper cars are stored (likely for Monsanto) on all that is left of the Napoleonville Branch.

Et Tu, Brute?

My outing on this day was a bit somber and very sour, as I was feeling a deep sting of betrayal.  The Godfather had sold me down the river, after I had tried to maintain the honor and climate of civility that his example had set in the first place!  A charming bully – and, even worse, an out-of-area charming bully – was more important to him, apparently, and I had great difficulty reconciling The Godfather’s treachery with the kind of person who I perceived him to be based on some years of experience, all a time that I greatly respected and admired him.  It is hard for me to describe – and impossible to understate – how difficult it was to reconcile the person whom I thought of him to be and his recent treacherous actions and, apparently, his choice in friends and whom he determined to be a “nice guy.”  I felt deeply betrayed, and it caused a revolting reassessment of everything that I knew and valued, or at least in the world of railroad enthusiasm.

Most fortunately, I was consoled by the fact that many other foamers – including some whom I didn’t know personally but who witnessed from a distance what happened – could see what was happening for what it was, or were at least as shocked by The Godfather’s actions as I was, that he apparently had fallen for a deceitful charm from a known bully, a bully whom they knew (and took steps to avoid) all too well.  Actually, the incident strengthened the friendships that I had with others; perhaps a certain kind of camaraderie can develop among those who are disillusioned by a common subject.  Bullies are a terrible cancer in the human race, and they only get powerful when otherwise honorable men bow down to them, like The Godfather shamefully did.

Learn To Stand On Your Foam Two Feet

I almost can’t publish this set of pictures without telling these stories, since I can’t look at these pictures (or even those of the Bogalusa expedition two days before) without thinking of what was heavily occupying my mind that day, a really sour way to spend a so-called holiday.  This is really the only thing that I remember about this outing, none of the “I took a leak here,” or “I ate a cheeseburger there,” or “the conductor waved at me,” or anything like that that normally accompanies the pictures on this site.

But after some self-doubt and self-examination, wondering if I had really done the right thing, wondering if I had really been wronged, I would eventually, slowly put it behind me.  At the time, though, The Godfather’s response to me was tantamount to being told that God is not real, or maybe that God doesn’t care about you, or maybe that God actually hates you.  Maybe The Godfather is not real either?

Beginnings And Endings

And maybe, here on the last day of what was a monumental year, I pressed onward with this westbound passenger train – a train that is difficult to photograph in more than one location – as a way of reclaiming or maintaining myself, a characterization that I have made of my train-chasing in other times and circumstances.  Whatever the case, this shot of the #1 passing the Bayou Sale siding is photographically how I ended 2008.

I suppose that that is not a bad way to end a year that had me shooting good train pictures in New Orleans in the first part of the year and visiting the northeastern part of my home state for the first time (see the June 6, June 7, and June 8 posts in the June 2013 archives) before spending the summer in the Northern Great Plains (see the later posts in that same June 2013 archives and also in the July 2013 archives) and then spending time in Memphis for Hurricane Gustav in September, now, is it?


Over time, I forgave The Godfather, and only later did I realize that I was really forgiving myself, though not necessarily for a specific act.  Sometimes, at least some of the monsters that one seeks to slay are staring back at him in the mirror, but it often takes a long time to find them, even if you are looking in the mirror.

The Godfather’s treachery really led me to discover and follow my own morality, and it helped, perhaps negatively, turn me into something of a rebel, but it would take other events, mostly outside of the foam world, to accelerate that process, a process that is ever ongoing.  That is perhaps a great New Year’s message, and it is not an easy one.

Forgiveness and humility must be balanced with self-respect and honoring one’s autonomy.  A new year is upon us, whether it is 2009 or whatever the next year will be after you read this.  Make it a good one, for yourself and for others.




1 Brennan Petit December 31, 2013 at 00:55

Loved the bridge shot!

2 Tex Collins December 31, 2013 at 07:52


Put not your faith in men, but put it in the Lord God. As for bullies, they will eventually sink under their own weight. And, the good guys already know you are one of them. And, they know for sure who is not!


3 Holly Marchese January 21, 2014 at 09:29


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!! I really love the picture of the train on the bridge. I hope that this message finds you and that you are doing well and pursuing your dreams!! Thought about you alot over the holidays and its just not the same without you 🙁

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