Saturday essay: The last run
Its swan song was on Jan. 1, 1969, the day the old man's last HO-scale model train platform came down for the final time. That same day, its red-and-white trolley bus was packed away for what would be nearly 45 years.
The bus spent many a Christmastime traversing its 4-by-4-foot third of the L-shaped platform that wrapped around the fireplace and through the community of Plasticville, named for the brand of its 1950s modeled plastic buildings.
And it was a temperamental beast. The bus took its power from a pantograph whose grooved rollers connected to overhead rails. They also served as a guideway to keep the bus running true down the street. As long as everything was in adjustment, there were few mishaps. But out of adjustment, oh, the carnage in Plasticville was legendary.
My brothers delivered the trolley bus on a visit from Ohio a few years ago; it remained packed away until this month, when, on a whim, the itch hit: Would it still run?
After a careful cleaning and thorough oiling — and mounting its power standards and meticulously positioning the overhead power rails on a circular base — the moment of truth came: By golly, it ran. After all those years.
A cellphone video was in order. And the 30-second clip indeed is a treasure.
Especially considering that a few seconds after the video ends, the trolley bus began to lurch, its motor burned up and the bus stopped dead in its tracks. It would be its last run. Sigh.
— Colin McNickle
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 â 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.