Joe Lotuff assembling the train set he inherited from his grandfather.
William F. Buckley Jr. is quoted as saying “industry is the enemy of melancholy.” I’m reminded of this thought every time I think of my grandfather and the set of scale model locomotives he passed down to me.
It was sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s when my grandmother was involved in a serious car accident that planted her in bed for about a year. My grandfather took care of her and didn’t leave the house much until she was better.
During this time, he developed a scale model railroad. He would go every week to Henry’s Hobby House in Worcester to pick up a new locomotive and whatever else he would need to lay down his tracks. He didn’t have a particularly large house, but the basement was a one room equivalent of the whole house. He had the model railroad going through that basement – turntables, trestles, scenery and all. That’s one of the ways he occupied his time while my grandmother was sick.
He did it for therapy. It was the industry he applied to help him get through that time. I look at the details and I look at the craft. I see how he built and then hand painted each one, managing to match each model to its true life counterpart. After he built each locomotive, he welded more tracks and then wired electricity throughout.
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