Today at the SOMC Friends Center, some train sets will transport older Christmas celebrants back to their childhood, and create memories for today’s generation.
“I think it takes, especially adults, back to their childhood,” said Mark Harris, of Market Street Hardware, as he worked on assembling his G-Scale 20 foot by 6 foot train display. “In my case, my grandfather had New Boston down to scale back in the 40s, and I inherited all of his stuff, which I keep mostly on display down at the store.”
The New Boston scene is on display in the upstairs at Market Street Hardware, with buildings made from the New Boston community during the World War II years.
“I never saw it back then, but he would always bring stuff up to the house, and set it up for me,” Harris said. “And then when he passed away I got all of his things.”
Harris talked about the history of the Train Show.
“Dick Bonzo and Joe Knapp started this thing back 26 years ago,” Harris said. “They had it the first year at Garfield (School). Then for 18 years they had it at McKinley (School). McKinley PTO received all of the proceeds from that. And then seven years ago, we brought it over here and the hospital, whatever guild they’ve got going on, benefits from the event. This year it’s Winter Wonderland.”
Harris said he and Dave Bauer have been involved in the event for some 15 years.
“I was doing it when we had the store up in New Boston,” Harris said.
Adjacent to the 20 by 6 layout is another measuring 60 by 20 feet featuring O Gauge, built by Bonzo and Knapp. Each has an elaborate setting with villages, buildings, trees and people, to give each layout a realistic look.
In all, visitors will be treated today to 17 layouts, all put together by local people.
“About every gauge will be represented. I’ve got little tiny V-scale, which is about the size of your little finger that I run on a little tiny track, then there is N-Scale, HO- Scale, which is half O, and then O-Gauge, which is the big one,” Harris said. “There are two G-Scales here — this one of mine and Jim Maxey’s. There’s S-Gauge, with the American Flyer. That is the one that Bob Allen and his family have. Tom Russell, his is O-Gauge Lionel.”
Two elaborate settings belong to Dave and Teresa Bauer.
“We started when we first got married, and we’ve been married 27 years,” Teresa Bauer said. “Every Christmas, and Father’s Day, and on his birthday he gets a piece to the set. So we just accumulated it over that many years. It just takes a lot of time. We just buy a piece at a time.”
The Bauers have an elaborate city setting that allows the train to wind through a couple of communities made up of houses, businesses, and with people to complete the scene. They also have one in which the train circles an old street fair with rides and eateries.
“We’ve got everything from a Ferris Wheel to a Scrambler to a merry-go-round. And we’ve got a swing set, and we have a Disney train,” Teresa Bauer said. “Then we have a McDonald’s. If you listen to it, it goes, ‘mommy mommy I want a Happy Meal.’”
Bauer said the kids enjoy playing with the setup.
“We have stations on each corner where the kids can push the buttons and operate the little things, and the kids have a ball,” Bauer said.
Terry Buffington has been displaying his train set for 15 years.
“I have just accumulated it over the years,” Buffington said. “It is very time consuming. I love model rainroading. I’d like to work for the railroad. I enjoy trains very much.”
The Train Show will be accompanied by the Merchant Expo.
“We had several past attendees tell us that they loved perusing the craft and vendor booths, but didn’t have a place to put their purchases on the night of the gala,” Janet Williams, manager of Volunteer Services at SOMC, said. “We also had many past train show attendees tell us some of their family members loved the trains, but wanted something to accompany the event to meet all the family’s interests. Therefore, we combine these two events into one weekend.”
The Train and Merchant Expo will go on from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. today and tomorrow from noon until 4 p.m. Tickets are $2 per person with children five and under admitted free.”
New to this year’s event is the Polar Express Pajama Party on Monday, Nov. 30 from 6 to 9 p.m. Children of all ages are being encouraged to jump into their pajamas and enjoy an evening of food, games, hot chocolate and a special appearance by Santa.
Tickets are $2 per person, children one and under are free and tickets for games are 25 cents each or five for $1.
“In year’s past, the children’s activities were combined with other events that were taking place,” Stephanie Merrifield, marketing communications specialist at SOMC, said. “We wanted to create a night of magic for the children of our area and what better way than with a classic story?”
Merrifield said the night will feature the holiday classic film, “The Polar Express” and will have a variety of activities, including inflatables, games,. a chocolate bar and a test by Santa to see if you still believe.
Proceeds from the Winter Wonderland events will be used to purchase Telehealth portable machines that allow blood pressure, heart rate, weight, pulse, oxygen and other trending information to be quickly transmitted each morning directly from the patient’s phone line to the SMOC Home Health Nursing Facility.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.