Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Son:  Do you remember that Daddy?

I took my son to the Utica, NY train station yesterday. Last week when I took him to the one in Rome, NY he was giddy as a goat. The station in Utica is even more impressive. He thoroughly enjoyed himself even though - despite the timetable arguing otherwise - no trains appeared to be moving.

The stations in Rome and in Utica seem like they're trapped in time. It's like a snapshot of the early twentieth century - minus all the people. I think that's probably the key - nobody rides the trains and hasn't for many decades so there's been no gradual wearing-down of the places. Utica's station is even bigger than Rome's so felt even more empty. Beautiful building though.

My son liked it in there because it was really nice and warm. The Rome station was the same - all the way up the stairs to the platforms too. It's a bizarre situation really that these places are so nice aesthetically and whatnot but nobody goes there. It's no wonder AMTRAK are going tits up. When we walked into the Utica station I was quite pleased to see lots of people in one end milling about only to find out that the city of housed a DMV in there to make some good use of the main lobby. Actually all over the huge building the city have housed various public officials - the city Public Defender and Commisioner's Office are in there as well. I assume so that city taxes can be used to help maintain the place.

It was bitterly cold yesterday so standing about outside the building wasn't what I wanted to be doing - let alone my son. On top of that he wasn't in in any kind of mood for me to be taking photos of him. Mostly because that meant asking him to stand somewhere he'd never been in brutal wind while I wandered off. I did get this bad photo of him in lowlight next to an old steam engine they have parked up. That building in the background is the very back of the station in the photos above, so you can see that we've gone down the platform a little bit.

This is a redundant point to make I guess but the station isn't in a very nice neighborhood at all. But then you can pretty much make that point about anywhere in Utica. I can see why some people would love the place. But my word you'd have to have extenuating circumstances for doing so. Nevertheless there was an older woman walking the other side of that train and I asked if she'd take a photo of us. There were a few other blokes wandering about but my sexism told me that they all looked scary - especially the massive guy howling like Tom Waits and pushing a shopping cart of soiled couch cushions somewhere.

Anyhoo - I don't know whether you've been asked to take a photo for strangers at their request. I think I've probably asked someone maybe once or twice to do that. My son wanted to get back inside to the lovely warm building so instead of me faffing about I put on my disabling posh English accent and she took the photo below. She gave us a reassuring smile afterwards that she'd done a good job. My wife often talks about how many people have no idea how to take a photo. This is a good example of not getting any of the principles of a photo right.

We went back inside and my son spent twenty minutes running back and forth across the very nicely warmed foot-bridge.

And as a special treat after that I drove down to the Eastern European district of the city to a store that sells untold piles of weird smoked European meats and strange candy (a nice old-fashioned pick-n-mix as well) that you can't decipher what is inside at all.

So he got a bag of stuff that has pictures of lobsters on as an indicator of what's in it. And I have to figure out what to do with my huge smoked Sudzuka sausage.

But then that's been the rumor for years already. Right ladies....?

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