Saturday essay: The find
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
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Zimbabwe alleges Murrysville doctor illegally killed lion
- Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
- Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
- Ability to clog the trenches crucial to Steelers defense
- After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
- Penguins not alone in top-heavy approach to salary cap
- EPA diktats: Pushing back
- Shell shovels millions into proposed Beaver County plant site
- Pirates notebook: New acquisition Happ more than happy to fill spot in rotation
- Starting 9: Examining Pirates’ deadline decisions
- Steelers notebook: Injuries finally become issue at training camp