Written by Charles Bartel
Summer is over, fall is here. It’s been a long summer for the garden railroader in Western New York. The 29th national convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, a 30 day display at the Botanical Gardens in June, an 11 day, 12 hour a day manned display at the Eire County Fair, and 5 open houses, two of which were for members only as they are railways in development. And that brings me to the point of this message. The benefits of club membership.
It is very nice to visit an open house where the plants are established, the track work is done and the trains run without too many problems during the open house. (Remember though, if it can go wrong, it will during an open house!) But it is great to see a layout being built. All the track may not be in place yet, buildings are a scattering of borrowed buildings and a few personal buildings. Maybe there is only one of two loops running, but it is still running. And if you are putting things together for your first open house, and horror of horrors, you find you are short a critical piece of track, a track connector, etc., and the open house is tomorrow, you can pick up the phone and borrow the equipment you need from the club inventory or from other club members.
But there is still another reason to be a club member – fellowship. On October the 21, rain or shine, our past president, Lou Piece and his wife Jeanette, held their first open house. Lou’s backyard was grass, flowers and trees in June. In early September, there was a train deck, a shed and the start of a layout. A few weeks later there was a gravel area for a future town and the start of a long dog bone layout. By the club meeting on the 19th, most of the track was down and we were a go for Saturday. If it rained, they would be open on Sunday, but there would be no picnic due to evening commitments
.Friday was a clear day, warm and comfortable. Lou had the trains up and running. Friday night, Mother Nature decides the grass and trees needed watering and down came the rain – lots of it. At 11:00 the next day, it was still raining, but not as hard. Jeanette indicated
she has some salads and could cook 2 hot dogs or 20 hotdogs depending on how many showed up. Lou and family were in the backyard getting trains running. And so the adventure begins
Some members’ car pooled and some came individually, but come we did. Open house was 2 to 4, with the picnic following at4:00. At a little after 2, there were multiple members
present, the men in the huddled under umbrellas discussing the layout, as Lou furiously worked out some wiring issues caused by the rain. Others stood under the tent on the train deck. The women, show mor e sense then the men, “huddled” around the dining room table for fellowship. When 4 o’clock came, the dogs went on and by 4:30, we gather in the warm, dry house (!) for a picnic. One of the best of the season for me. Salads, baked beans, hot dogs, apple pie, cookies and drinks. Stories were told about families, hobbies, trains and desires. Fun was poke at individuals and we all laughed until my sides hurt. Lou was telling a
story in the picture to the left, and club members were listing and smiling on the right. It was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.
And when the “picnic” was over, it was back to
the trains! After all, this was a club open
house, not a public one, so time was not as
critical for closing. And the rain had stopped. So now we had the ladies coming out to the layout also. And we stayed until it got dark and the rains came back – with a vengeance. A few of us got soaked getting back to the cars to go home, but a little water was well worth it in payment for a great day.
At one time during the day, we had two trains
running from the standard analog transformer
(the track was very long allowing lots of
distance between them), a battery power,
remote controlled engine and a trolley. Four
trains on two tracks, with three of them on one
track. It was great until the remote operator got
distracted talking and did not watch that the
train in front was stopped for a rerail and
plowed into the back of the stopped train. And
just like the prototype, there was a mess of cars
and engines all over the ground! That operator
will not be able to life that little accident down for a while. But no long term damage done, things back on the track, and we were back in operation for another 1⁄2 hour.
And so, I go back to the question – Why join a garden railway society? And the answer is – trains, a club full of information and support, and fellowship. I will close with a thank you to the club members who open their doors to us this summer.
Mike and Carol Leonard Bill and Mary Ann Robins Bob Bond and family Gary and Nancy Tebo Lou and Jeannette Pease