I’m in the business end of the model railroad hobby, so I get to go to a lot of shows. But being in the business end doesn’t preclude me from still being interested in the trains, operating them and collecting them.
I recently attended a regional model railroad show in Milwaukee called Trainfest and going to this show was an opportunity to see people in the industry that I haven’t seen in a while and also see operational model railroad displays and perhaps buy a small thing or two. There are a lot of fun things on display.
When I go to shows like Trainfest, I am always reminded of something that Bernie Paul said when accepting a Model Railroad Industry Association award. Bernie was an interesting guy. Nat Polk another interesting guy in the model railroad business, described Bernie this way: “Well, Bernie is an interesting person. He started after all of us. Actually, he started as a kid in the back of his mother’s candy store selling model airplane stuff. When the war came along, he owed me about $3,000 which at that time was a tremendous amount of money, and I thought he was going to be drafted. He was put into 4F because he had an ear defect, so we were saved by the bell. Bernie started to distribute goods. Then, he slowly moved out into bigger and bigger places and became a distributor, and after a while started AHM, Associated Hobby Manufacturers.”
Anyway, Bernie has an interesting reputation in the hobby industry, but at the MRIA award breakfast, he rose to the occasion. To paraphrase him, he noted that the model railroad industry has been described as “dying” on several occasions. Model railroading was dying in the 1950’s because of television. Model railroading was dying in the 1960’s because of slot cars. Model railroading was dying in the 1970’s becuase the real railroads were dying. Model railroading was dying in the 1980’s because of video games. And he then told us to just keep on doing what we do at the very best that it could be done and things would take care of themselves. It was a rare moment and a lot of people in the business felt much better, because Bernie was right.
Here are two people that didn’t get the memo about model trains being dead:
And we are still here. It’s a wonderful hobby.