My Story

Boston Trolley Picture

picture of trains
Pictures by Pauley 1973

Travel Town
Travel Town, Griffith Park

My interest in rail travel started at a very early age on the rapid transit system in Boston, then called the MTA. Growing up without a family car meant frequent travel by public transportation.

I became a rail fan long before I had ever heard the term, always finding it fun riding and learning the system. For a little kid, I got to know the stations quite well.

My interest in transportation went a bit off the rails (pun intended) as I also enjoyed riding buses. I learned the different makes (i.e.: Macks, GMs) and the routes they served. I could, without looking, identify a bus by by its sound - even the trackless trolleys, which were nearly silent.

Sometimes, when I was just a little guy with nothing to do, I'd hop on a bus for a nickel, take it to a subway station, and knew how to ride all over the city for hours using transfers and my knowledge of which stops had free access to the trains and trolleys running in the opposite direction – so I could get home. (I guess I was sort of playing engineer even back then.)

Flash forward about fifty years!

Having retired to Oregon from southern California in 2013, it didn't take me long to realize I needed an indoor hobby. Although I never had a model railroad when I was younger, I'd always had an interest in trains, both full-size and models. (It probably had something to do with all that time I entertained myself on the subway.) After a rail trip from Eugene, OR, to Vancouver, BC, in 2017, I decided to take the plunge. It turned out to be a perfect retirement pastime for me – and much more.


Old Layout

Aurora HO Racing

San Fransico beach

Old Dioramas

While I was working on the first part of the town, it often felt somewhat "familiar" like I had seen it before. I couldn't put my finger on why.

Then I stumbled on some old pictures, and I had an epiphany.

On the left is a picture of a scene I built with the Kenner Girder and Panel building set back in 1964 or so. It consisted of two parallel streets over several blocks.

I realized that I created an incredibly similar scene over 50 years later. Wow.

Below that is another photo of an Aurora HO racing set I had as a kid. Setting up a track and running the cars - hmmm. (That "double loop" also will appear in future layout.)

At the bottom, is a picture from July 1974, right after I moved to San Francisco from Boston. Since I lived a block away from the beach, I hung around there quite a bit. (BTW, the "beach" in SF is more of a place where the ocean meets land in the fog. I liked it, but it's not what one might imagine a California beach to be - sunbathing was rare.)

I was playing on the beach one afternoon, and created a little diorama based around a water drainage channel. (I had made little scenes like that on Revere Beach as early as I can remember.) A guy came by with a camera and I gave him a buck or two to take my picture and send me a print. He did! (Thanks, whoever you were.)

There it is: a river, trees, a building (looking like something out of the Flintstones) and a road.

I'm not sure what all that means, but, like creating the Mattapan Square diorama from an old photo (described in My Layouts), I've had some scenes in my head from a very early age. After all these years, it's so wonderful to finally have an artistic outlet for them.

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