Thursday, February 15, 2007

sooted up for work

Along with beasties, boppers and boats, trains were a perennial Flora motif. During the Great Depression he defrayed his tuition costs for the Art Academy of Cincinnati by working the moon-tan shift at a railyard. His uncle Charlie Royer (sketched below in the early 1990s, some sixty years later) was an engineer.

Flora wrote in 1988:
My uncle John Royer was night foreman of the Cincinnati Railroad Terminal Roundhouse. He was able to get me a job wiping the soot off the huge old steam locomotives. I would go to art school from 9:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. and then work in the roundhouse from 5:00 P.M. until 1:00 A.M. It then took me an hour and a half to get from work to my furnished room and to bed by 3:00 A.M. I was always yawning from lack of sleep.

Besides sleep deprivation, the job afflicted Flora with black spots on his lungs. Late in life, he could afford to be nostalgic about the railyard, secure in the knowledge that he could ride through it—and artfully render it—without ever again having to work in it.

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