Observation

Our Lives Now

Yesterday’s NMRA picnic at Dave’s was a modest affair. All told, maybe two dozen people showed up, both from the NMRA division, and my N scale modular club, which was also invited. We filled Dave’s two-car garage with a modest T-Trak layout, my Inglenook puzzle, and a few tables of member for-sale items. People brought their own sandwiches and camp chairs, and ate in a big circle under a pair of canopies erected in his back yard. Everyone had masks, of course. (Don, in fact, had a hundred of them, sewn by his wife in a variety of colorful interest-themed fabrics. I purchased two.) For most of us, it was our first train-related gathering in six months. (more…)

Running Trains at Twilight, in My Driveway, During a Pandemic, With Neighbors Watching

It’s been a weird summer. Society has been gradually opening back up, but large gatherings are still taboo, we’re all wearing masks when we’re out in public, and train-club meetings remain on Zoom. I’m starting to miss those things we used to call “events.” Because the recession came knocking at our shop, and slashed our workload, I now have four-day weekends to fill. The COVID-19 Emergency Railroad has been coming out a lot lately. (more…)

My American Flyer Legacy

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.

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Artifacts

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…)