The Marshall: The Story Behind the Photograph
They said that a few days of rest and relaxation was what I needed. It will heal your spirit and your heart. As I packed my luggage I had lingering doubts that this would cure my ills. Life has a way of wreaking havoc and in my case it was a soul destroying divorce and the death of my beloved companion animal that set me adrift. There were few options left to ponder. I could dive into a deep well of addiction, slowly fade away into the bland melancholy existence as do many Americans or try a Hail Mary pass and try to restart my life.
My life to this point had been a series of conservative choices but this time I decided to go counter-intuitive and go for that unbridled Hail Mary Pass. This was a road trip that was meant to rekindle my passion with life and photography. A small duffel bag with a couple of changes of clothes, an old-fashioned paper map and a camera were all that I needed where I was going.
The turn of the key caused the incessant whine of the starter motor and I breathed a slow breath and the engine of the old Jeep roared to life. A couple of brief stabs of the gas pedal exuded a confident but throaty roar from the engine. It was an inspiring yet confident roar that got me on my way to kick start my life.
The goal was to travel the old parts of Route 66 and to look for a quieter, gentler side of life. A stark contrast to the rough sounds of the city constantly berating your eardrums. As the miles racked up on the speedometer I looked over to the passenger seat and remembered fondly of the days when my trusty dog leaned out the window. Snorting in the smells of life at 60 mph. A dog’s zest for life is unparalleled and somehow he always managed to bring out the best in me. Maybe one day I will be re-united with my beloved friend.
The changing sun indicated it was somewhere past the stroke of two. The temperature had climbed considerably and the temperature gauge in the Jeep had started to panic. Dancing with the upper reaches of the red line caused small wisps of smoke started to appear from the engine hood. I slowly pulled over to the side of the road. Lifting the engine hood let loose billowing clouds of steam that seem to merge together with the heat waves echoing off of the pavement. Things did not appear rosy all of a sudden. A quick glance of the 1980 paper map showed a gas station 2 miles down the road.
As I walked along the road I could see the heat waves shimmering and the tumbleweeds blowing along at a leisurely pace. Sweat had been pouring down my brow and then a jackelope ran out from the side of the road. This brought me back to a stark reality and I pressed on to the gas station.
As I got closer to the gas station I could see the old sign reminiscent of 1950’s advertising. Alas, I spotted the oasis of the gasoline pumps. A quick glance around seemed to indicate that the gas station was deserted. The moving clouds caused a large shadow over the gas pumps. Out of the shadows a large man with a weather-beaten face appeared.
A downcast look was sent my direction and he quoted Ezekiel 25:17 "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."
This was my first encounter with the “Marshall”.
The story continues in the State of Wyoming the following year.....
Watsonphotography.ca creates unique images of fashion, models, people, travel, nature and racing sports by Toronto photographer Peter Watson.
Keywords: The Marshall, cigarette, cowboy, hat, smoking
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