First is a set of train tracks near my house in Wilsonville, Alabama. These tracks are used on a daily basis to haul coal to the nearby power plant. Even though the sides of the rails and the spikes holding them down are very rusty, the tops of the rails are polished shiny smooth by the constant wear of heavy rail cars. The boot? The boot is in fact why I took this photo in the first place, and I'm sure there is a story there, I just have no idea what it is. That's the kind of thing I make up my own story for. What are your ideas?
Next are a pair of bolts and nuts. The rusty set is from an old railroad car essentially abandoned and donated to the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum in Calera, Alabama, not far from my home. I believe the museum is gradually trying to restore some of the old engines and various freight and passenger cars. When I was there though, this car and its rusty bolt were just sitting there, gradually doing their part to increase the entropy of the universe, silent as to its history and not telling its story to anyone.
Now this shiny bolt has a different history. It is not a new bolt. It was already old and itself abandoned in 1967 when I recognized it as stainless steel and rescued it from the scrap pile at the paper mill in Macon, Georgia, where I worked summers while attending Georgia Tech. With the permission of my supervisor I requisitioned a stainless steel nut to fit the old bolt and took it home where I polished off all the old grime and grease and created a shiny paper weight for my desk. This thing has been with me ever since, usually just sitting on my desk, but occasionally letting me take it for a spin as I contemplated some tough problem at work, or just needed to relax for a minute or two. I know its story, or at least most of it, and I do believe it knows mine.