I was born in Buffalo, NY in 1950. I still carry a deep affection for the city whose greatness had long since been eclipsed. We lived with my grandparents in a neighborhood known as "Kaisertown", for the Germanic origins of its early residents. By the time of my birth the ethnic composition was primarily Polish.
I grew up going shopping with my maternal Grandmother to the various neighborhood merchants in the days before grocery stores. There was a major Farmer's Market nearby and Saturday's often meant going to the market for fresh produce. I couldn't have asked for a better education in urbanism and community.
Our street ended into the entrance of a large factory, the Worthington Pump Works. Numerous railroad tracks bisected the community. My entertainment usually consisted of watching trucks or trains, ergo my great love for industry and transportation. By the mid '50's my parents bought a house in the small town of Depew, 9 miles east of Buffalo. There were train tracks not to far from the new house, and the town had strong industrial roots. I would not be bereft of the things I had become enamored with. I still made daily summer pilgrimages to my Grandparent's house in the summer when my Mother would drop my brother and I off on the way to her job. This would last until we were "old enough to take care of ourselves".
College brought me to Chicago in 1968. I was fortunate to be able to explore a city that was under profound change. The gritty, grey fringes of downtown with its rail yards and underused train stations became the subject of my photo class assignments. I rode the Elevated trains whenever I could and walked around neighborhoods that I probably shouldn't have. I witnessed the end of industrial city and it's transformation to a much different creature. Landmarks were demolished, new neighborhoods were born on the bones of the old working class communities, the greyness faded and the city remade itself.
I quit college to become an animator, and for two years I enjoyed the "artists life". When it became apparent that the company was going under I made a rash decision. I left the creative field and went to work for the railroad. That decsion would eventually lead me to the craft of Locomotive Engineer. Despite my great love of the job I became disatisified with the lifestyle (or lack thereof) and went back to school part-time and recieved my Undergraduate degree in design. I would eventually quit the railroad and get involved in television production and computer graphics for the next 8 years.
When the last company I worked for closed I was at wits end. The economy was poor and work in the creative fields were non-existent or below living wage. I swallowed my pride and went back to work as an Engineer for a regional railroad. I'm on my third railroad and now operate commuter trains in Chicago. The lifestyle is marginally better and retirement is in sight.
I'm a restless artisitc soul. I've produced documentaries, run non-profit arts organizations, become involved in historic preservation, editied magazines, and coordinated conferences. I have dreams, but I don't have the time to pursue them.
My wife and I live in the Morgan Park neighborhood on Chicago's far southwest side. My photos are the testament to my continuing attempt to feed my artistic needs when time permits.
Photos of Senor Roboto (1)
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- April 2007
- Buffalo, NY
- I am:
- Male and Taken
- retired Railroad Engineer