Old Man Scanlon's


Words & Photos

Read Old Man Scanlon's
What I write—personal essays and short nonfiction—may not be for you. But it might be. You can read it here.
red tide
My photographs may not be for you, either. Judge for yourself.


The weather here all Summer has been really infernal. Fortunately, there is a tremendous supply of really good beer, and so I have managed to survive.

H. L. Mencken, letter to Harry Leon Wilson, 23 August 1934

Genealogy, Family History, Local History

What's New

The Families

The Data


Away from Home

John Knightley only was in mute astonishment. — That a man who might have spent his evening quietly at home after a day of business in London, should set off again, and walk half a mile to another man's house, for the sake of being in mixed company till bed-time, of finishing his day in the efforts of civility and the noise of numbers, was a circumstance to strike him deeply. A man who had been in motion since eight o'clock in the morning, and might now have been still, who had been long talking, and might have been silent, who had been in more than one crowd, and might have been alone! —; Such a man, to quit the tranquillity and independence of his own fireside, and on the evening of a cold sleety April day rush out again into the world!... John Knightley looked at him with amazement, then shrugged his shoulders....

Jane Austen, Emma

There is no frigate like a folding aluminum lawn chair, but occasionally the satisfaction of sitting in the driveway yelling at lost Rhode Island tourists and stray kids on bikes pales enough to motivate me to travel. But not far, and to geezer-friendly destinations.

Geezer at the Tracks

You enterprised a railroad through the valley.... The valley is gone, and the gods with it; and now, every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half-an-hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton.

John Ruskin, Fors Clavigera

Hanging around at the railroad tracks is Old Man Scanlon's idea of a good time. It's virtually the only place where you can see, hear, and feel trains operating at the speed God intended. Seeing things and identifying them is the major draw, but vision isn't the only sense to exercise—I heard my first American bittern at the tracks. And occasionally you'll bump into another geezer-enthusiast.

The obligatory safety warning: trains are much bigger and faster than you, and often surprisingly silent. Do not trespass. Enough said.

Technology, People, Shiny Things

It is better, of course, to know useless things than to know nothing.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Epistles (88,45)