We lived in an apartment when I was a kid, in the federal housing projects on First Street in Bayonne, New Jersey. We did not have much money, and we did not have much room. One Christmas, I decided I wanted a set of Lionel electric trains. Santa brought them to me, good guy that he was. It was years later that I learned that they were hand-me-down trains that had originally belonged to my cousin Richie. He was a few years older than me, and had outgrown toys. By then he was more interested in girls. His train set was pretty basic, to tell the truth. A circle of track, a transformer, a locomotive, a couple of cars, and a caboose. None of the really cool cars that Lionel was making in the 50s. I had friends who lived in houses whose train sets occupied their entire basements, with a whole town, a mountain, tunnels, bridges, all kinds of cool cars that did stuff. My train went in a circle around the Christmas tree, and when the tree came down, it was time to put away the train set for another year. Eventually my trains vanished unaccountably, and I later learned they had been handed down again, to another cousin, one who was a few years younger than me.
Perhaps these experiences during my formative childhood years gave me a deep-buried case of Train Lust.
Or maybe it was my middle initials. I remember when I first started going to SF cons, there were a lot of guys named George around. George Zebrowski was “George,” Gardner Dozois informed me. George Alec Effinger was “Piglet.” So I would have to be “Railroad.” Jack Dann still calls me that, half a century later.
Whatever the reason, yeah, it’s true. I bought a new train set. Well, me and a couple of friends and partners, Bill Banowsky of Violet Crown Cinema, and Catherine Oppenheimer of the New Mexico School for the Arts. All three of us are involved in Santa Fe’s resurgent Railyard neighborhood, at the heart of which is the old, defunct Santa Fe Southern Railroad, which hasn’t run regularly for years. The SFSR only ran eighteen miles, from just behind my theatre the Jean Cocteau down to the old historic depot in Lamy, New Mexico. But it was a great fun ride once upon a time, and Bill and Catherine and I think it could be a great fun ride again.
The JOURNAL NORTH has all the details, here:
It is going to take a lot of work, more than a few bucks, and a fair amount of time to get the railroad running again. There are tracks and trestles to inspect and repair, old historic coaches to restore to their former splendor, a dead locomotive to bring back to life. And the coronavirus has slowed the process way down. But sooner or later, we do hope to have the old Lamy Line chuffing and puffing once again, and we have all sorts of fun ideas for the future, live music and murder mysteries and train robberies and escape rooms and… well, we shall see.
And best of all, we won’t need to pull up the tracks when Christmas is over.
Current Mood: excited