Monday, June 23, 2008

Quotations from “The Emptied Prairie”
*National Geographic* magazine, 2008 January
Charles Bowden
1945- American

A torn page from a textbook flutters in the breeze from a broken window in the Gascoyne school. The lesson reads: “Write the Other Word for CRY, AFTER, BAD, ALWAYS, GOOD-BY, LOST, and DARK.”
Charles Bowden, “The Emptied Prairie”

Ghost towns stud North Dakota, and this empty house is just one bone in a giant skeleton of abandoned human desire.
Charles Bowden, “The Emptied Prairie”

Bjella explains the man walked the tracks each day for the two miles into town, did this year after year. One day he apparently did not hear the train and was killed. Bjella pauses, lets the tale float almost weightlessly in the air with its whisper of suicide. Self-destruction is not a forbidden subject in North Dakota, and people easily tick off cases in their neighborhoods. One woman came across a death book compiled in the early decades of the 20th century. She says the records show a remarkable number of people killed by trains.
Charles Bowden, “The Emptied Prairie”

He’s looked through his granddad’s diary from 1908 and notes, “a lot of the entries are about wind.”

“There were a lot of suicides,” he says.
Charles Bowden, “The Emptied Prairie”

He and his brothers and his late friend Oscar all served in World War II. Every winter he’d go by Oscar’s and say, “Well, do you remember how you were years ago at this time?” and Oscar would always answer, “Cold.”
Charles Bowden, “The Emptied Prairie”

You know I sit here alone for six months at a time, nobody comes to see me. I’ve outlived them all.
—Ragnar Slaaen, in “The Emptied Prairie” by Charles Bowden

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