TribLIVE

| Opinion/The Review


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Saturday essay: The find

Daily Photo Galleries

Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, 8:57 p.m.
 

The great American hobby shop is an endangered species. Here's why that's such a sad thing:

Forty-three years ago, and after decades of model railroading in HO scale, the old man began buying engines and rolling stock for his first, smaller-scale N-gauge train platform.

One of the engines was a classic F7 diesel model of the then-new but ill-fated Penn Central railroad, formed the year before, in 1968, with the merger of the iconic Pennsylvania and New York Central railroads. Painted pure black, with the railroad logo and name in white lettering on its sides, it pulled five silver Penn Central passenger cars.

The locomotive wore out years ago. But the cars, featuring a wide aqua stripe along the window line, have continued to run on my platforms, pulled by other engines.

Then, this week, by pure happenstance on a visit to A.B. Charles, the iconic Mt. Lebanon hobby shop, a pristine 43-year-old Minitrix-brand German-built Penn Central diesel engine found me from the display case.

It was the exact same brand, model and engine number as the old man's and in the original packaging. It came from the voluminous “old stock” that late owner Ed Charles (“Mr. Charles” to all) had squirreled away. Son and current owner Scott priced it to move. But it was a priceless find for the history and memories involved.

Which is the magic of the great American hobby shop that can't be replicated by Internet sites — you're never sure if you found what you found or if it found you.

— Colin McNickle

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Police: Barracks ambush suspect sought mass murder
  2. Former Pirates pitcher Tekulve doing well after heart transplant
  3. Steelers’ Roethlisberger hurting after big hit
  4. Pennsylvania Senator wants to arm school teachers, employees
  5. Pennsylvania fiscal officers say budget in dire situation
  6. Police: Drunk prowler stole only Altoona couple’s candy
  7. New approach on offense has Pirates in playoff contention this season
  8. Escaped school shooter captured near Ohio prison
  9. Steelers veteran defenders want young teammates to step up
  10. Bob Crewe, ‘Walk Like a Man’ writer, dead at 83
  11. 2 top executives at Dick’s Sporting Goods retiring
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.