Why do grown men play with trains? Is it a primal attachment to childhood, nostalgia for the lost age of rail travel, or the stuff of flat-out obsession? In this delightful and unprecedented book, Grand Prix legend Sam Posey tracks those who share his “passion beyond scale” and discovers a wonderfully strange and vital culture.
Posey’s first layout, wired by his mother in the years just after the Second World War, was, as he writes in his Introduction, “a miniature universe which I could operate on my own. Speed and control: I was fascinated by both, as well as by the way they were inextricably bound together.” Eventually, when Posey’s son was born, he was convinced that building him a basement layout would be the highest expression of fatherhood. Sixteen years and thousands of hours later, this project, “the outgrowth of chance meetings, unexpected friendships, mistakes, illness, latent ambitions, and sheer luck” was completed. But for Posey, the creation of his HO-scale masterpiece based on the historic Colorado Midland, was just the beginning.
In Playing with Trains , Sam Posey ventures well beyond the borders of his layout in northwestern Connecticut, to find out what makes the top modelers tick. He expects to find men “engaged in a genial hobby, happy to spend a few hours a week escaping the pressures of contemporary life.” Instead he uncovers a world of extremes–extreme commitment, extreme passion, and extreme differences of approach. For instance, Malcolm Furlow, holed up on his ranch in the wilderness of New Mexico, insists that model railroading is defined by scenery and artistic self-expression. On the other hand, Tony Koester, a New Jersey modeler, believes his “mission” is to replicate, with fanatical precision and authenticity, the way a real railroad operates. Going to extremes himself, Posey actually “test drives” a real steam engine in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, in an attempt to understand the great machines that inspired the models and connect us to a time when “the railroad was inventing America.” Timeless and original, Playing with Trains reveals a classic, questing American world.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of History eBook: Playing with Trains|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||Playing with Trains|
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Playing with Trains
I'm pregnant," my wife, Ellen, said, and right then I knew I would be building a train layout. I saw a layout as a birthright, since playing with trains had been such a big part of my life as a kid.
When our son, John, was born in June 1982, I remember gazing at his little fingers and thinking that they were scaled down from an adult's in the same way model trains are scaled-down versions of the real thing.
My memories of trains went back to a wooden locomotive that I pushed along tracks spread out across my bedroom floor. At first, I was told to put the tracks away each night, but as I began to make the configurations more complex, I was allowed to leave everything in place, sometimes for weeks at a time. I built stations with my blocks, stuffed books
under the rug to make hills, and designed loops that tunneled under my bed.
When I was four I ran into the living room Christmas morning to discover a locomotive that was made of metal and painted dark blue. A large key lay next to it. My mother showed me how a lever on top of the cab kept the spring mechanism from unwinding until I had the engine positioned on the tracks and its three passenger cars hooked up. Once released, the train accelerated down the straight, then flipped over at the first curve, leaving the wheels spinning in the air until the spring unwound. If I didn't wind it quite so much, the engine stayed on the tracks but expired after a lap, leaving me wishing I had wound it just a little tighter. This was an improvement over my wooden trains, which I had to push, but like most boys my age, I already longed for the next step: electric trains.
The word Lionel was magic. My Lione...