o we had a show. But I had covid. I’d have to miss it.
Turns out we suffered a crisis during the load and, even though I was thinking of early-to-bed, I had to call the membership and warn them. This turned into a problem solving effort. The details of what happened are outlined HERE. Read ’em and weep.
The point of that sob story is the point of a train club. When it’s just you with a 4×8 in the basement, you just work on it when you feel like it. But when you join a club, a lot of things need your assistance and effort. Here, it was two guys trying to hook up a trailer late in a 40 degree evening, while I worked through the phone list. But there have been other things. At our club, I coddle the wheezy air conditioner. I maintain the security cameras and alarm system. I manage the lawn maintenance and try to minimize the cuts (often using a scythe on our two acre property to cut back the worst of it). I’ve written our club financial software. I’ve twice repaneled the roof. I do a lot of things, from taking out the trash to bringing in the cokes.
And out of it, I get a layout that fills a 40×60 room. I get to dispatch often (which I dearly love). I’ve met a massive number of train friends, some of whom have been critical to the developing of my own interests (such as the Tuscarora Tower). It’s gotten me invites to layouts from Florida to Chicago to St. Paul to San Diego. It’s brought me thirty-five years of smiles and tears.
I didn’t even consider it until last night while I sat on the porch at 11pm, talking to a younger member suffering life-doubts. He was telling me all the things that seem to pull at him, that demand things from him, family and friends and classes and work. I could only smile, then gesture behind me to our magnificent, wondrous, beat-up old club house. “This damn place has been my life,” I told him. He laughed at that.
The gist of this is to point out that if you join a club, you’ll get access to greater layouts and a wider circle of friends. But you’ll get midnight calls for help, false alarms, requests for getting home layouts working or settling estates. There’s a lot more that goes into club-life than just showing up and running trains.
And, looking back on it all, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.