Friday, May 8, 2015

"Friendly Fridays... All the usual suspects!"

If  the weekly feature, 'Friendly Fridays,' is dedicated to celebrating the kindness and hospitality of the hobby's participants, then today's installment needs to be noted with an exclamation point! Northern New Jersey is losing a longtime friend, operator and helper in Tom Callan who is relocating with his wife cross-country to be near his married daughter in the Lake Tahoe area.

But if it wasn't bad enough that the informal North East New Jersey Modeler's Alliance was bidding a fond adieu to such a dependable friend, that dependable friend was a regular vendor at railroad shows who ran Short Line Hobbies out of his basement. To say that he may need a bit of help packing is akin to Bob Uecker declaring that the pitch was, "juuuust a bit outside."

Twelve intrepid souls met one weekend morning earlier this winter to make quick work of this task.  Or so we hoped. Tom did his part, setting up a well-fortified breakfast of caffeine and assorted sugar-coated carbohydrates laced with Aleve.

One man's chaos is another's organization! My first visit to Tom's home confirmed why he may not have had a basement layout of his own. But there was a method to this madness.

Tom explains to the crew the best method of negotiating the low basement ceiling while carrying boxes around the narrow aisles. Protective helmets? Recommended, but optional.

Look carefully and you'll note that all bins, boxes and containers  were color-coded, indicating their priority, packing order and relative level of toxicity. The sharper crew members quickly realized which colors signified the heavier items. 

Tom knew the contents of every container, whether see-through or not. He knew exactly where everything was and where it should go. The mad scientist was pure genius!

Twelve relatively able-bodied men negotiated the narrow basement stairwell several hundred times before it was suitably emptied to Tom's satisfaction. Then the garage doors were opened! At least this was on grade.

Tom directs a very organized loading into two PODS of which he maximized every square inch. He had prepared numerous plywood bulkheads that divided and secured the stacked cargo. Here, Ted DiIorio and Dave Ramos play 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' to see who takes the next trip back to the basement, while Tom Schmeider proves that he indeed "can do this with his eyes closed."
All of the group will miss the Watertown, MA native whose penchant for fine scotch seemed to enhance his abilities at any work or operating session. He was my personal supplier for sheet styrene, in much the same manner that Ellis Boyd Redding was Andy Dufrene's go-to guy in The Shawshank Redemption. He was a man that knew how to get things!

Good luck Tommy boy. Our loss is the west's gain. But we'll see you again, operating somewhere, fine blended scotch and all.

Next Friday we'll return to railroad porn featuring another layout from our infamous road trip throughout upstate New York and New England. But first, this coming week, the continuing mis-adventures of track planning!
True or false? Tom lovingly refers to his daughter as 'The Princess.'

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