Alan’s Wheelchair



By the world’s standards, Alan Rathke was a wealthy man. He owned thousands of acres of land and thousands of heads of cattle. His family and friends loved him. I liked him. He had a great sense of humor and a generous spirit. He and his wife, Thelma, were members of my church in Colorado, and that’s how I got to know them.

Like so many in his generation, Alan had been stricken with polio in his youth. His legs were useless. He spent his life in wheelchairs.

On one sunny afternoon, Thelma and Alan took Marian and I up to their old family homestead on the southern slope of Pike’s Peak. I had the presence of mind to take my cameras and I shot this picture that afternoon. It is one of Alan’s wheelchairs.


I spent many great days hiking in those mountains west of Colorado Springs. My legs were and are good. This photo has always haunted me, because every time I look at it, I see Alan in the chair, gazing out at the gorgeous mountains that he could never walk.


Technical information on the photos: The first and last photos were shot on the Nikon FM using Panantomic film developed in Microdol. The middle photo, the picture of me, was done with a Yashica 635, using Plus-X film and Microdol development.


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