Sunday, May 15, 2016

Model Railroading thoughts in 1966 (Highball, November 1966)

In 1996-67, I edited Highball, the newsletter of the 6th Division of the Pacific Northwest Region, National Model Railroad Association. Recently I found a piece of it, this editorial I wrote in the November 1966 issue, after the October 1966 fall Meet (which was in Lethbridge that year). Here it is, as written, with a few typos corrected.
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We have a rather slim issue this time, a fault I hope to have corrected next time. I was hoping for a report on the Fall Meet in Calgary; I remember asking for one, and almost wrote one myself. I didn't see Dr. Livingstone's mammoth collection of locomotives, and am told I missed something. I believe it. The Heritage Park Tour apparently was worth missing; either that, or the cold froze all charity out of my informant's system, like salt separates from seawater when it freezes. I rather liked the banquet, and not only because I won a prize (it's the first I've won in years). No; but a chat with Ross McIlveen suggested to me that model railroaders as a group are a very nostalgic lot. What we're really trying to do is recapture the first wonder that trains aroused in us. . . We lost our childhood on a railway train, and ever since we've been chasing real, imaginary, and model trains trying to find the one train on which it steamed away never to return. – Now the layout visits: always fascinating. Two of them were definitely train-watchers' layouts, with lots of room to see a really long train (especially on George Oliphant's layout), and just enough complication of loops and scenery to prevent the whole show from being boring. The other three were modelers' layouts, two of them in the John Allen style of total realism; and one an example of English condensed realism, and very typically and competently English, if the impression made by English modelling magazines is any guide. – That last layout made me feel a bit odd in the throat: my first memories of trains as splendidly self-sufficient, wonderful and beautiful machines are set in England, in the pre-British-Rail(ways) days. Mr. Jarrett models LMS, whose marvellous crimson-lake (maroon) I knew only on branchline coaches and short, six-coupled engines. But the lordly green, black and copper of he GWR' s Halls, Manors, Castles and Kings! The shiny, deliciously chocolate and cream carriages. And Oh! the smell, the sudden heat, the shaking earth when the express London-bounded by, the engine breathing hard and light, and the wheels of the train singing on the sixty-foot long bull-headed rails. – I've watched a Hall, a minuscule engine* by our Canadian standards, pass over the level-crossing a block from my home at better than sixty-per, trailing eighteen or twenty sixty-ton carriages behind her. – In 1947, the four great systems, the GWR, the LMS, the LNER, and the SR were combined as British Railways, and for the next ten years the usual color of an engine was black.

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