Friday, October 6, 2017

Twelve Issues I Kept

At one time I tied to keep every railway magazine - TRAINS, Railfan (even before it was Railfan & Railroad), Model Railroader (MR), Railroad Model Craftsman (RMC), Bytown Railway Society's Branchline, Upper Canada Railway Society Newsletter, and Canadian Railway Modeller (CRM). Only the latter three collections remain, and I'm a charter subscriber to CRM! Storage space, too many pages of ads, only a few seminal articles all contributed to a rip, clip and ship solution to my railway room space problems. I would even buy stacks of back issues at train shows, knowing I would only keep a few articles, but enjoying paging through them, realizing how far we've come in the worlds of prototype railroading, model railroading and publishing.

I do have a single IKEA magazine holder in which I keep special issues. Issues that are special to me. In this post, I'll show you which twelve issues I've kept all these 40+ years, with cover photos, and reasons why:
  • June 1976 MR - just how did a couple living in the Netherlands Antilles jam the Pacific Northwest into a 45x60-foot basement? I was big on model railroading and Burlington Northern at the time (still am!) and GN + UP were well-represented among the 46-locomotive, 345-car fleet. But it was the depth, breadth and massing of the layout - over 12 feet wide in places, that led author Jim Hediger to seem apopleptic with adjectives like large, largest, staggering, hundreds and magnitude.
  • July 1976 RMC - The US Bicentennial was full of hoopla and ballyhoo. RMC 'sponsored' an American Freedom Train (AFT) tour of plaster-piled, lovingly-lichened layouts like the Alturas & Lone Pine, Virginian & Ohio, with many model photographs by the versatile Jim Boyd. An AFT consist was shipped to nearly a dozen locations with SP 4449, T&P 610 and Reading 2101 alternately posed with AFT display cars. AHM advertised 0-4-0 Docksides for $11.99, Athearn their cabover Bekins and Life-Like its 13-car (one for each colony) reefer & gon Spirit of '76. EMD's stillborn GM6C was profiled plus prototype Bicentennial units from ConRail's 'Rivets' to SF's Warbonnet SD's.
  • July 1976 MR - I also saved MR's Bicentennial entry that month. More historic hoopla on the circa-1840 Baltimore & Ohio, EMD's 'state of the art' SD40-2, and an article on railroading's tomorrow: train-track dynamics research, increasing use of welded rail, the advent of only two large systems covering all of the US, and remote-control trains 'right out of Flash Gordon'! But languishing nearly neck-deep in hoopla on distant page 88 was Frank Ellison's The Art of Model Railroading! The reawakening of the dream of model railroading by instilling operation into the yards (dressing rooms), track (stage) with theatrical trickery. This was straight ether to a 12 year-old with the family's layout to operationally transform. If only I could have duplicated Frank's Strathmore board structures and his revolutionary use of space, time, and physical plant. My Dad printed neatly on the cover Special Issue too many articles to separate keep parts together. Thanks, Dad!
  • June 1977 RMC - Another issue of creepy black & white photography, Art Curren kitbashing fake windowless locomotive cabs and squint-worthy (even for your eyes) two-page ads for America's Hobby Centre, Inc. 146 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011. Bachmann Dockside 0-4-0 for $11.99, or 0-6-0 for $6.49. Reviews of Athearn's White cabover above an N-scale Kadee 'The Rock' 40-foot boxcar. The next page advertised Walthers' wacky one-truck Oscar and Piker mini-business cars. But the page before? Julian Cavalier's awesome plans and Chuck Bohi's 8-page extravaganza on Canadian Northern third class depots. Vanscoy and Veregin, Smoky Lake and Shellmouth, Conquest and Bladworth (both of which I'd visit 10 years later, the stations since gone) were pictured, some in colour! This article coincided with our family's first trip to Portage la Prairie, with a large hook, line and sinker firmly lodged in me, ineluctably pulling me west over the next few years. Bohi would release his book Canadian National Western Depots in 1977.
  • December 1981 RMC - Stafford Swain's evocative staged sunset photo of steam with wooden elevator headlined the upcoming Winnipeg NMRA Railway Jamboree in '83. The article centred on the fictional Forsyth, Manitoba scratchbuilt CNR Class III station surrounded by kitbashed Kibri and AHM false-fronted Western structures. Stafford's photo of the jumbled, stacked, unpainted village structures has stayed with me since - unconventional! But just think: Canadian prototype modelling, especially Western Canada, was a thing!
  • January 1984 MR - Golden Anniversary Special. An impressive 266 pages! Another tour - this time a 'restored' Milwaukee Hiawatha 4-4-2 hit the road visiting MR staples - Carrabassett & Dead River, Cat Mountain & Santa Fe, Jerome & Southhwestern with oompah bands, forced perspective and painted structure proclaiming, "Miracle Chair Co if it's a good chair, it's a Miracle!". Stats on the hobby: average modeller 40 year-old college grad, making $30,000 a year and spending a paltry $590 on the hobby per year. State of the art proto loco was the SD50. AHC ad: Atlas FP7 for $19.95. Athearn ad: Dupont Alathon ACF Center Flow $3.50. An industry panel predicted electronic magazines, fewer words, more images, and in the late 1980's American homes will be able to access 'remote data banks' using computers. Fun! Nice article on Al Kalmbach and the genesis, history and editors of MR
  • July 1987 MR - cover story was Developing a Locomotive Roster for the Utah Belt. Finally, someone like Eric Brooman with a believable proto-freelance layout. All-EMD roster. A good sample of late 1980's MR just before the delectable dawn of the not yet-detectable Golden Era of model railroading.
  • April 1988 RMC  - inspired by a 1977 RMC article (the June 1977 issue previously mentioned) Stafford Swain finally built his CN Class III station (Hey, wan't it pictured in the 1981 issue?) Regardless, a great how-to-build article, published several years after I'd built my cardboard/balsa station from photos alone! AHC was advertising the weird Tyco C-C trucked GG-1 for $12.95.
  • November 1992 RMC - Patrick Lawson's Cascade Sub CP Rail modelling CP Rail in the mountains article with detailed CP SD40-2s. Only two industries on his 16x18-layout, and Patrick candidly professed 'I am a real fan of flat cars'. His scenery and attention to the detail of scene composition alone made this issue a keeper.
  • June 2003 RMC - cover photo of John Slean's HO scale CN 3615-1915 with an Illinois Terminal P-S covered hopper visible. Hello! Not a single figure, and few vehicles visible, but the rolling stock was clean, colourful and Canadian. Published in advance of Maple Leaf 2003, the NMRA's national convention. John's 1970's era modelling was instructive for urban modelling in that swinging decade. Editorial content and most ads now colour!
  • January 2009 MR - Junbo anniversary issue for MR's 75th. Building a sectional layout - the Beer Line - more industrial switching. Yes! The final article on the 43x54-foot V&O left me a little cold, but hey, it's still the V&O! Trainland advertised Model Power 0-4-0 saddle tank for $11.99. Other ads include PWRS green Saskatchewan! grain cars and two-page spread for Rapido Trains' Canadian. And yet another story on the Gorre & Daphetid. The heyday of MR's era of recycled article content. Oh, and Jumbo now means 146 pages only!
Each for its own reasons, these issues stayed in my memory and on my bookshelf. Strangely, I've kept the December 1973 MR with its completely undistinguished content. An obscure Burlington Route 1:48 layout on the cover. But it's not the what, it's the who, when and why that keep this one around. Kids hate to see their parents argue and after one of these bouts, my Dad disappeared over to the store. Returning with some essentials, he quietly slipped me this copy. It was his way of saying 'Things will be alright - read this and feel better". Tucking this issue back into my IKEA magazine holder with those other remarkable issues, I remark to no-one in particular, "Thanks, Dad!"

Running extra...

Keeping to the literary theme, it's time to catch up: What I Read on my Summer Vacation. Photos with few-word book reviews follow: Dunkirk - better than the movie; Green Beret - Canadian joins the Royal Marines; Stackpoles tell the story right every time; Rick Warren - thought-provoking:
Donut - story went around and around; Tank Men - gritty; Marine One - presidential; another fine Stackpole; Cold War - Canadian in Germany:
D-Day - forbidden war diary shared; Ron and Don - a few pops together; Goose Green - definitive account; Sabre - ripping good yarn; Waterloo - not as I'd hoped, but great reading while waiting for the CP Canada 150 A-A-B-A train to arrive. 
And finally, speaking of waiting for a for an upcoming post from this bucolic Keystone State location:


Steve Boyko said...

I keep a few more than that, but I sure don't keep everything. Nowadays I don't rip paper - I scan and store in Evernote - but the premise is the same. You can't keep everything.

Every year or so I go through my old magazines and toss a bunch into the recycling bin, or donate them to a local organization to resell... usually it's to make more shelf space for timetables... but that's another topic.

Eric said...

You are a generation ahead of me technologically, though only three years chronologically, Steve!

Articles, magazines and books certainly require constant winnowing to produce the optimal collection.

Thanks for your comment,

Greg Williams said...

I purged all magazines a few years ago because I was out of model railroading at the time and was about to move. I had MR back to 1948, Trains back to 1960, a smattering of RMC and several years of CRM. I regret that as I now pine for the old issues sometimes. I recently went all digital for MR and RMC. I don't prefer it but it beats the heavy paper. I still have about 3 years on the shelves. I need to scan and toss as Steve has done.

Greg Williams

VE7PGE said...

Yes, the purges come and go, and always there are victims of the past!
So what is the up side and down side of the digital magazine?

Randy Zarowny exBC Rail

Unknown said...

I commute on the GO train from Hamilton to Toronto and for the past few months have been revisiting my RMC collection. the hobbie started for me with the December 1975 issue. it's been great to go back and glean ideas from forgotten articals and see how far we have come. I think about purging from time to time however in those old mags I find lot of comfort.

Brian Davis

Eric said...

Ah, the paper/digital debate! I like magazines in hand, as I do books. But those pages and pages and pages of ads were killing me. It's like watching a 30 minute TV show in 22 minutes...if the ads were taken out, the magazine would be much, much slimmer.

Digital is a great way for the tech-savvy model railroaders among us to enjoy all the access to the past without the poundage of periodicals!

Brian, I too enjoy reading a model railroading magazine while commuting! Though these treasured issues which are too *valuable* to leave home!
Thanks for your comments,

Barry Silverthorn said...

I have to save every issue that comes my way. I can't count the number of times I've been editing a TrainMasters TV story and someone references a magazine article. Then it's off to the attic to find it and shoot some video of that page. All those mags get pretty heavy and I worry about the ceiling caving in someday. What's really scary is that I can find many RMC articles just by recognition of the cover.

Eric said...

Indeed, Barry there are some really, really good articles in those back issues. Paul at the Bytown Railway Society is always happy when I'd purchase some at the Kingston Rail-O-Rama because it meant less weight he'd have to haul back to his house!

Don't you find that we often refer to those classic layout articles and are in danger of 'modelling someone else's modelling'? I'm sure right now there are several modellers out there who think they're modelling CP Rail but they're actually replicating The Fallowfield Effect. At the same time, like the Utah Belt and the V&O, it's eminently worth replicating!!

Thanks for your comment,