Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey

A discussion of things to do and paces to go, with the purpose of sharing, encouraging participation, and networking.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Model Railroad Disp;lay, Footlighters Playhouse, 908 Pomona Rd., Cinnaminson, NJ



Today, just after noon, I set off in pale, cloudy, damp weather for Cinnaminson, 908 Pomona Rd,, The Footlighter’s Playhouse, to be exact.  As I have no doubt mentioned before, ever since I was a small child growing up in South Philadelphia, I have been enchanted by model railroad platforms.  My father had built increasingly complex platform set-ups over the years 1948 until we moved, around 1957 to New Jersey.

Who can say what attracts people to this miniature worlds.  Although I loved the powerful trains with their smell of fuel and their smoke and whistle, it was the snowy villages that most captured my heart.  We had the mirror pond and the lead saking figures, the people wrapped in winter coats waiting at the station, the sparkling cardboard houses and church, made, oddly enough in Japan, and later, Occupied Japan!

A year or two ago, a brother and sister bought me an “N” gauge Bachman trail and I set it up with my little wooden German villages, purchased in 1969 in Nuremburg at the Weinachts Fest.  I even created a tunnel, because watching the train come through the tunnel is somehow part of the magic.  So, although I was toying with envy and a sense of inferiority by going to model train exhibits, which ar always infinitely more elaborate than anything I ever owned or would own, nonetheless, every year at Christmas, I was find the model railroad displays to visit. 

Side note:  I bought my daughter age appropriate trains thoughout her childhood, but when, a few summers ago, I sold her last set, I apologized to her and said I hoped she wasn’t sad or disappointed.  She said she didn’t even remember ever having any.  I’m sorry I sold the set but in over twenty years, I had never put it up and the scale was far too large for my life these days.  The little “N” gauge is perfect both for the space I can give it and for my German village.  Somehow being smaller makes it even more magical to me.

In other years, I have visited the model railroad display at Jim Thorpe, Pa., Bordentown Railroad Days, and Bellmawr.  Today, the exhibit I visited was put together by the Burlington County Model Railroad Club.  It was spectacular.  Needless to say I took photos but there are somethings that lose their magic in photographs and must be seen in person.  This display had the forest mountains, tunnels, Industrial Parks, Train lots, Amusement Parks, Cityscapes, Suburbs, the whole panoply of scenarios. 

Coincidentally, just yesterday, I was telling the handyman, who was here doing a plumbing job, about the exhibit.  He mentioned he had been to the biggest one of all in Flemington, NJ.  Just as he got into his car, our local train went by and, as usual, I could hear the whistle blow as it passed Northmont, then Kings Hwy.

It reminded me of a Paul Simon song:
She was beautiful as Southern skies
The night he met her
She was married to someone
He was doggedly determined that he would get her
He was old, he was young
From time to time he'd tip his heart
But each time she withdrew
Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
Everybody thinks it's true
Well eventually the boy and the girl get married
Sure enough they have a son
And though they both were occupied
With the child she carried
Disagreements had begun
And in a while they fell apart
It wasn't hard to do
Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
Everybody thinks it's true
Two disappointed believers
Two people playing the game
Negotiations and love songs
Are often mistaken for one and the same
Now the man and the woman
Remain in contact
Let us say it's for the child
With disagreements about the meaning
Of a marriage contract
Conversations hard and wild
But from time to time
He makes her laugh
She cooks a meal or two
Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
Everybody thinks it's true
Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
Everybody thinks it's true
What is the point of this story
What information pertains
The thought that life could be better
Is woven indelibly
Into our hearts
And our brains

Now that is not what the sound of the train means to me, and it never did.  To me it is a beckoning call like the howl of a wolf, to come away, seek adventure, see other places. 

On the way home, it began to snow.  First it was light flurries, as I passed the house where I lived when I first was married in 1967.  Then it got thicker and I passed my old high school, and the funeral home where the service was held for my brother’s best friend, another Vietnam Vet, who was killed on the job by a collapsed crane.  Soon however, I was in a fog of snow so thick it enveloped the world in a gauzy indistinctness.  It was the first snow of this season, late, this year, coming in January.  


Exhibit open each weekend throughout February from noon to 5, free with donation accepted 
Happy Rails, Jo Ann

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