The weather has been very warm for December, making it difficult to commit to spending hours at a time in the basement with my trains. One Saturday morning, however, as I was walking by a table in my living room, i spotted the corner of a bright orange flyer peeking out from under a stack of books. I knew what it was because I put it there. Still, I felt compelled to pick up the paper and glance at it.
The model train show it advertised had started an hour ago. Instead of being infused with excitement, I found myself balking at the idea of attending. Was it bad timing to attend a train show right before Christmas? I couldn’t classify it as going Christmas shopping, since I was the only one in my immediate family bound to model trains. What to do?
The next thing I knew I was standing in line, waiting to plunk down five dollars for the privilege of taking in the R.I.T. Model Train Show. Judging from the number of cars filling the parking lot and crowds of people milling around, I’d have to say the model train hobby appears to be alive and well. Once inside the arena, my heart stirred as I observed fathers and mothers escorting their young children around the venue. This brought back fond memories of interacting with my own kids, who have now grown into men. I found it invigorating to mill about with so many fellow enthusiasts.
Because I was alone, I didn’t feel pressured to linger at places deemed not relevant to my particular interest. Come to think of it, what was my stated interest for being here? I didn’t have an immediate need or a grocery list to shop from. I decided to look for one good bargain. Isn’t that what we are supposed to say when we are out shopping for no apparent reason?
While in the process of looking for the ultimate bargain, I took some time to watch trains passing by me on the F.C.T.T. HiRailers layout. As you can see by my photos, it was inspiring to look at.
Eventually, I did find my bargain. I encountered a guy who was getting out of the hobby altogether. His wife was positioned beside him, apparently offering a strong arm of encouragement. My eyes were drawn to his table because it featured one of kind, O-gauge buildings. The structures he built were of high quality, and his prices were reasonable. I settled on a meat-processing factory, determined to give it a home on my layout. I tried to negotiate the price down but he wouldn’t budge (despite his wife jabbing him in the ribs). We both knew his price was a bargain.
It is difficult to explain to people the inspiration that comes from placing a building, such as my newly purchased factory, on the bare plywood surface of my train layout. There is no apparent connection between the track and the building yet. However, when the time comes, livestock pens and scenery will surround the meat factory. A flurry of cattle and refrigerator railcars will visit the site. Imagined life, spurred on by a hint of realism is what I find compelling about model railroading.