3’s idling on the Waycross siding, brakeman out at the forward turnout, waiting for the dispatcher to confirm me out. I’ve got a long line of PFE reefers, empty, but why I’m here aboard Southern Pacific units heading south in Southern Georgia*, I can’t say. I’m way off my preserve.
I’ve got a fleet of traffic heading south coming down behind me. Cody, Jeff and John each walk by with a train, their controllers held in the hands of their little engineers (we let any kid who asks run with us and at 2pm at the Deland Train Show, we’ve got the high iron humming with traffic). I decide that rather going out and dropping a signal on a kid, I’ll wait. Finally the last one rolls past. Okay, I tell my brakeman to toss the turnout over – we can roll soon as that last southbound clears the block.
“Scuse me,” a little kid says, tapping my arm. “Can I run a train?” He’s so soft-spoken, I nearly don’t hear him. “Why sure.” I proceed to explain the throttle and how the signals work and off we go, our short-version setup filled with trains and kids, just a lot of fun and run. And over next to us, that floor-poaching club who sprawled all over our space this morning and forced us to squeak in, they don’t have so much as a single person looking things over.
“It’s us they’ve been coming to see,” as the song roughly goes. This is confirmed when I run down the show organizer after the club has struck the layout and gone. “You guys get a lot of great feedback. We get emails and letters with people asking if you’re going to be here.” And we do – we recognize some of the kids and have seen them grow over the years. And that’s nice to know – people love our layout and the way we run things. So, man, if they’d give us more space for the full monty, and not give it over to those lame floor-sprawlers, we’d really give them a show.
There’s always the big two-day January show.
For now, see you in October!
* I just used the word “south” three times in the same sentence. A no-no in literary terms, but I’m leaving it.