A couple years ago, I posted my own “Railfan Five”, (https://yosemitevalleyrailroad.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/my-railfan-five-challenge/) a listing of five photos that I took while railfanning that tell my story. The original inspiration for the challenge came at the time when the ALS Ice Bucket challenge was the rage.
As I spent time recently reviewing my projects and making plans for things that I want to get done, along with looking at some old family photos, I found myself thinking about a group of people that I’d call the “Influential Five”. People who nudged, inspired, taught, shared, and otherwise made my journey into railroad modeling something that has become a life-long passion. I thought it would be fun to share
I’m going to list five “entries”, but there are actually seven people here. As I go along, I’m sure you’ll understand why.
Number 5: My Grandfather and Father
No list of this kind can be complete without including my Grandfather and my own Father. Grandpa was a railroad man, working for the Milwaukee Road. As a small child, Grandpa took us to visit the railroad yard where he had worked, and some of the memories of exploring the passenger trains with him and the guys who were still working there who remembered him and called him “Boss” have stuck with me. My dad also worked for the Milwaukee Road for a time, and it was dad who made sure as a small child that I rode trains, had trains to play with and explore, and took me all over the country with the family riding not only Amtrak but tourist trains and visiting museums. Without both of them being involved in that interest, and sharing it, I would not have wound up on this path.
Number 4: (Tie) Jim Martin & Ed Bingle
My first HO scale trains arrived with “Santa” the year I was 7. A 4×8’ table, painted blue, with a black road painted on it. The outside loop of track had a passing track installed, and the inside loop, smaller, was not connected. Two DC power packs were included, one for me and one for my brother. The following year, the outside loop, which belonged to me, received a 4×4 mountain loop extension from Santa, and a note that two gentlemen who I knew from our church congregation should be told about it and asked to finish installing what the elves didn’t have time to finish.
Years later I learned, after discovering the facts behind Santa, that Ed Bingle and Jim Martin, those two gentlemen, were the builders of that layout. Both of them had HO scale layouts of their own, but they built that first layout for us at Christmas, and I was hooked completely. I still have the Santa Fe 0-4-0 switcher that pulled the vast majority of the trains I ran on that layout for years. Thanks to Ed and Jim, I got my start.
I was lucky a few years ago to track both of these men down, and write to them, in thanks, for their contribution to my life and passion with this hobby.
Number 3: Ann Kistner
Ann was someone who was also interested in trains herself, and she made sure I got to see things, read things, and go to her house to help with her G scale trains. If it wasn’t for Ann bringing me magazines that she had, taking me to see special things, like the movement of SP 2472 from the San Mateo County Fairgrounds where it had been on display onto the SP mainline to San Francisco, I would have missed out on a great deal of events that I still remember to this day. I talked to Ann about once a week through my High School years, at church, or elsewhere. She always had something about trains to share and talk about. I’m fortunate to have had such a person contribute to my interest.
Number 2: Bill Dreslein
Bill was a man who did a lot of things in his life. He’d been in the Army during WWII, was a fireman, an usher at our church, and right after WWII, had worked for the Southern Pacific in the San Francisco Bay Area as the relief foreman at the Bayshore roundhouse. A bunch of the magazines that Ann would bring me, she had gotten from Bill. Pacific Rail News magazines would show up from the two of them regularly. As I got to know Bill better and better, he shared stories about his time on the SP with me, and passed along some of his memorabilia to me for my own collection. I use some of his tools from his time working on the SP at my own workbench still. Bill’s sharing his stories, and his friendship, continued to support my own interest in trains and railroading.
Number 1: Jack Burgess
This list wouldn’t be complete without my friend Jack. I met Jack through the Yosemite Valley Railroad Historical Society and his own website while doing research into paperwork for operation many years ago. Within a week or so, I’d abandoned the freelanced railroad that I was working on and was gearing up to prototype model the YV. Jack’s friendship has meant that I’ve had someone to not only get historical information from, but also modeling tips and assistance from. His standards in modeling have influenced mine. I’ve learned to be a better modeler from him, and his friendship is something I am honored to have. Without Jack’s influence, I wouldn’t be modeling what I model, the way I model it, and continuing to try and be better at the work I do.
There are my “Influential Five”. Without those people, I wouldn’t be the railroad modeler, railfan, and in some cases the person that I am. While you’re working on your own projects, who has influenced you? Who are your “Influential Five”?
Time for me to get back to the workbench!