“There’s no future in time travel.”
DENNIS, MASSACHUSETTS – [HN PHOTO NOTES & MULLINGS ON THE MATTER] – In the above photo a young Massachusetts State Trooper checks on a man just involved in a westbound rollover on the Mid-Cape Highway, just prior to the Route 134 overpass. The driver was able to self-extricate and told first responders he didn’t need medical care. (He was also the sole occupant.)
While en route, HN nearly made the decision to turn away from the crash scene upon learning the driver was okay. Dennis police officers had already cleared, and Dennis fire vehicles were already heading back toward the barn. All things considered, it was beginning to sound like a relatively routine and minor situation…
… but somewhere right around the Yarmouth/Dennis line while traveling eastbound, HN intercepted state police radio traffic that caught my attention. While running the license plate, a trooper described a very old pickup truck, possibly made in 1951!
“Holy shit! That’s even older than I am!” I thought.
“That’s it. I’m going!”
I hate traveling toward highway scenes. Out of all the crashes I cover, they are the most dangerous for everyone involved… and one can never be too careful. The texting and drinking idiots are out in full force, and Route 6 is their playground. If I can avoid going up onto the Mid-Cape, especially in the evening, I’m more than happy to turn back toward safer roads less jammed up with the idiotic “broken heroes on a last chance power drive…”
… but in this case, the ancient pickup was calling my name.
My heart raced as I zeroed in toward a tight spot at the bottom of the Route 134 on-and-off ramps. No lighting. Lots of guard rails and little space to safely pull off and park. The odds were stacked against me making a safe landing without frigging everything up royally.
But the highway gods were on my side as I slowly maneuvered the westbound on-ramp, down from Route 134. And there it was at the bottom of the ramp! one tincy-wincy tiny spot – and one spot only – where a careful photojournalist like me could safely pull off without making matters worse for everyone involved. And I breathed a little easier as I grabbed that spot, up on the shoulder, out of the crosshairs of crazed drivers, just prior to the overpass.
It was an ideal spot after all, with significantly less danger of being rubbed out by one of the murderous speed demons flying out of Suicide Alley. And there was also no need to turn on my strobe light in this particular spot… in fact, it would make things more hazardous to have a strobe activated on the completely opposite side of the westbound Route 6 travel lanes, opposite to where troopers were working their scene. (It could draw attention in the wrong direction…)
And that’s another thing… approaching these scenes as a “responsible” photojournalist, my first priority is to not get anyone else hurt, including the police officers and firefighters. Sure, lights can be great safety tools… but they can also be very hazardous if applied incorrectly. An obvious example is approaching a scene where officers have their guns drawn, looking for a dangerous suspect. An inexperienced and careless photojournalist might inadvertently back-light officers with a flash or onboard video light, putting the officers in grave danger by basically making them illuminated targets. This all to say, that every scene is potentially dangerous… or hazardous… and not to be entered into without careful thought and consideration…
… but once again, the ancient truck was still calling my name.
I stood safely behind my vehicle as I donned a high-viz traffic vest, checking traffic in all directions – up, down, and all around. A young trooper looked across, saw what I was up to, and said hello.
(The local troopers know I’d rather not be anywhere near the highway at night… and for the most part, they are usually a huge help… and I don’t know where I’d be without ’em.)
The highway stories told with Hyannis News images over the years have ranged from the deadliest extremes to fleeting moments where a caring trooper hands a surprise Teddy Bear to a frightened child. I consider them all important stories for a number of good reasons… and if one single person happens to ever drive a little more carefully because of a HN image, then I have certainly done my job. But this particular story was not necessarily about the need for modern motorists to drive more sanely and carefully…
… it was about an ancient truck calling my name.
I was thinking this likely would be the ancient truck’s very last drive. And the sad ending needed to be properly and respectfully documented, with a degree of dignity and decorum. The death of a great machine is a serious affair. Like so many fading things in my aging existence, this truck is one of the very last of its kind. And during my brief stay photographing the wreckage, I detected a distinct somberness hovering over the whole thing, and my heart broke for the owner… as well as the entire world in general.
I snapped the photos you see on this page and quickly made my way off the highway, not wanting to stay one second longer than necessary. There was no time for chit-chat on this particular assignment, and not wanting to intrude on a grieving man’s intimate farewell to his wrecked machine, I was unable to learn the precise age of the ancient pickup truck.
It was back inside the tiny Blue Shark, safely traveling westbound, when the flashbacks hit. I could feel and smell beautiful old trucks from the 1950s and 60s, made of solid metal and built to last. As children we rode in the wide-open beds of these amazing trucks, without seatbelts or helmets… and sometimes with our legs hanging over the side, horseback style. The cops didn’t care and waved at us in traffic. “Look at the cute kids on their horsies! Let’s turn the blue light on for them!”
And in the back of these all-metal pickup trucks on the Mid-Cape in the old days, kids were sternly warned to “hang on!” And at very tender ages we all eventually hardened and learned that our own safety was ultimately our own responsibility. We learned to hang on.
And we also learned about the consequences of not hanging on. Only the weak, dumb kids fell off, never to be seen nor heard from again. I never actually saw one of the “weak, dumb kids” fall off, but the adult men in our lives made sure to tell us all the gory details. You see, a man’s job in those days was to scare the living crap out of us… so we’d “get the picture…” so we wouldn’t wind up like Road-Rash Reggie… or Dumb-ass Dale…
… and thankfully for me and those of my ancient ilk, the adult males in our lives way back then did an excellent job teaching us about real life and natural consequences! And for the most part, those of us who paid attention are still alive today. (It’s funny how that works…)
We got the picture.
[Some additional old truck photos from last evening’s crash… full metal… no airbags… nor signs of Road-Rash Reggies or Dumb-ass Dales… and the end of an era that made perfect sense for a lot of us, once upon a time in America.]
P.S. – Today’s Hytown Vignette is brought to you by Led Zeppelin… [CLICK IT/CRANK IT! HEADPHONES ABSOLUTELY OBLIGATORY!]
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