498 Excursion with the Motorman
By Stephen Dudley
An amazing, moody shot of the Metropolitan Coach Lines motorman operating ex-Pacific Electric no. 498 on the February 16, 1958 excursion. This view was taken while running southbound near Compton.
Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection
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I think this shot would make a great Norman Rockwell painting. The MCL motorman looks like the sort of every day, working man subject Mr. Rockwell normally depicts in his paintings.
Rockwell could well have captured it but it wouldn’t be one of those charming vignettes of “oh-so happy American life”…this man has the stare of an alert survivor who has already seen far too much through that porthole view.
I’ve seen a lot of Rockwell’s paintings and not all of his paintings were captures of “charming vignettes of “oh-so-happy American life”. You could very well be right that the photo above wouldn’t be one of the charming vignettes Rockwell depicted in many of his paintings, but it wouldn’t have to be. Some of Rockwell’s work wasn’t always a reflection of “happy American” life. I’ve observed that domestic scenes or incidents from everyday life were depicted in Rockwell’s paintings, not always oh-so-happy ones.