When Mom and Dad moved out of their home of 44 years and into a senior apartment, we all knew that his trains were going to have to go. Sure, there was closet space for a few of them, but there was so much more than he could take along. Discount-store N scale from the late ’60s. O scale trolleys built from LaBelle wood kits. A smattering of HO scale items. Plasticville structures by the boxload. And lots and lots of American Flyer S gauge. American Flyer was his first love, and when I was very young, it became my first love, too.
The lamentations came thick and fast on Facebook’s Pennsylvania Railroad Group last night: it was the 50th anniversary of the Pennsy’s demise. Nobody wanted to mention successor Penn Central. Everybody hates the Penn Central. Well, almost everybody. (more…)
I know people who devote time and effort to railroad history. They’re out at the museum doing unglamorous tasks, like scraping and repainting the rolling stock, or cataloging old paperwork. I am not one of those people. I like to leaf through old books on winter evenings, and read online stories of railroading’s past, and take bike rides along abandoned rights-of-way on sunny autumn afternoons. Last weekend, I spent time with people who actually work at historical things. (more…)
These days, I’m known amongst most of my fellow hobbyists as an N scale guy, although there are a few who still remember my S scale past. I’m not one of those people who switch scales every couple of years. I have never, ever dabbled in HO scale, even though it’s the most popular scale. So when I picked up some used HO scale boxcars at the spring shows, my friends naturally started freaking out.
“You’re not getting out of N, are you?” they asked, perhaps anxious that I’d no longer be able to help them with their Micro-Trains coupler problems. (more…)
Every August, our Boy Scout troop spent a weekend at a camp in northern Pennsylvania, with other troops from all over the region. We’d do the usual Scout-type stuff: learn a little woodcraft, trade patches, play a few pranks on the new kids, play Uno by the light of a Coleman lantern. When an all-day hike to Kinzua Bridge was announced during the 1982 camp, I signed up immediately. Hey, Kinzua Bridge, right? One-time tallest railroad bridge in the world? You bet I’m going.
Getting back turned out to be a little complicated.
In the wake of last year’s Despatch Junction fire, I had my doubts that Stan would rebuild the shop. These are lean times for the hobby business, and Stan’s not as young as he used to be. To everyone’s surprise and delight, however, he did rebuild. My offer to assist with a new layout was accepted, and I’ve put some time in over the last two Saturdays, working on wiring. (more…)
When it comes to sharing my love of the hobby with my non-railroading friends and acquaintances, I’m not shy about it. They all know where I’ll be on November Sundays. When an Amtrak crash makes the news, they ask me for details. They send me sympathy cards when a hobby shop burns down.
They also send their orphans to me.