Sunday, May 29, 2005

Discovering Model Trains

When I was little, it was always a special occasion when my uncle came to visit. He lived ten hours away, so we only saw him a few times a year, and half of those times, we traveled to see him and the rest of our family in Illinois. A visit from my uncle always meant that he would take me to see a few movies and maybe we'd walk around the mall and he'd buy me a new toy. But there was a downside to these shopping excursions. My uncle made model airplanes, and there was a hobby shop just a few minutes from all the mall and movie theaters.

As an eight year old, I couldn't think of anything more boring than staring at rows of boxes with airplanes on them. But then one day, I wandered a few aisles away from my browsing uncle and discovered the model train section. I was amazed by the world of trains that I had just entered. There was something universal about trains that I didn't find in airplanes. I saw them just about every week as my mom's car was stopped at the tracks on the way home from school or grocery shopping. Planes flew high above, always just out of sight.

I was drawn to the detail involved in the model trains. I had no formal concept of scale models, but I instinctively recognized the perfect proportions of the tiny wheels on each train and even the bits of shrubbery that graced the displays adding to the realism of the land the trains traveled. Time passed so quickly while I contemplated the miniature world before me that for the first time ever, my uncle had to convince me that it was time to go. After that day, I never again looked on those hobby shop visits as an unpleasant chore. I knew that the model trains would be waiting for me.

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