Saturday, October 09, 2004

Best Train Show?

What's the best train show you have ever been to? York? Cal Stewart? A local LCCA or TCA meet?

I remember the show that introduced me to Standard Gauge.

My Dad took me to a huge show when I was a kid. It was in Michigan at the Fairlane Town Center (I think it was in the hotel). I remember my Dad saying it only happened every 30 years or so and that it was just just gigantic. It was sponsored by the NMRA I think. I remember seeing a huge standard gauge set at the show and that's when I caught the bug. I can't remember when I saw more trains at one time.

But then again, when I was a kid in the late 60's and early 70's, I can remember seeing a ton of great Lionel gear at flea markets. Even some garage sales. The postwar and prewar trains seemed expensive at the time but now they look very reasonable (hindsight is 20/20). Just seeing them was kind of a treat.

I also liked some of the people that remembered what it was like to be a kid in the 30's and 40's and seeing some of these things when they were knew. Honestly, I am as glad I got to meet the people as much as I was happy to see the trains. Some of the guys I met (that were friends of my father) actually were in the Battle of the Bulge and landed at the beach in Normandy. Guess that's why quite a few folks seem to think they were one of Americas greatest generations. I know, I am rambling a little.

I kind of miss those days.



Gilbert Ives said...

I liked going to the TCA conventions, though only went to a few in the 70's. Orlando was probably the best, with the whole Disney thing and a ride home on the Auto-Train. Took the train into Philadelphia the next year. But only for the day, so the vacation aspect was missing. Though it was the last time I was able to ride into the seedy-but-spectacular Reading Terminal. All I really remember from Boston was dinner at Durgin Park and the crazy cab ride to the Pops concert later that evening.

Well, I remember a bit more: saw the fabulous JAD Hiawatha at one of the conventions and also the Sirus-Varney IVES and AF repros. That Standard Gauge stuff was so exotically enticing but beyond reach. Think the JAD Hiawatha was priced at $350. [loco & tender]. Dad wasn't so keen on Standard, and had just blown the budget on a 700E. I would just have to wait another quarter-century for my Standard Gauge. Talk about delayed gratification! (STILL don't have that JAD Hiawatha!)

Gilbert Ives said...

This belongs at an earlier entry, but I remember wonderful exciting visits to Madison Hardware. Always came home with something wonderful--in my then-youthful opinion. And Dad did actually buy a few Standard Gauge pieces after blabbing for hours with Lou and especially Carl. Got a mint/boxed grey 392 tender and a pristine 200-series floodlight car [they probably assembed it from NOS parts]. If those guys were still in business, those unsold Commodores would be sitting in Madison Hardware storage, just waiting for the day they could be marked-up by 100%!

Oh, and Carl promised a loco to go with my tender. But, alas, it didn't happen.

Anonymous said...

The two shows a year in Allentown, PA (the Fall "First Frost" and the "Spring Thaw") are my favorite train shows. They are like mini-Yorks...more enjoyable because the size is easier to deal with yet the selection of tinplate is usually quite good. I also enjoy the small but interesting TCA local division shows in NE Philly.

Jim Kelly