PLAYING WITH TRAINS by Sam Posey

PLAYING WITH TRAINS

A Passion Beyond Scale
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A model-railroader explains his obsession.

Former Grand Prix racer and sportscaster Posey was four years old in 1948, when his father brought home a Lionel train set for Christmas. Along with many other boys of his age and era, he gradually supplemented that beginner set with buildings, specialized cars and equipment, and a failed early attempt at a layout (a complete miniature setting for the trains to run through). Puberty led to other pursuits, and it wasn't until the author had a son of his own that he returned to his childhood hobby, this time with HO-scale trains, smaller but more realistic than the Lionels of his youth. Discovering that there were entire books devoted to railroading, he began to dream of creating a layout worthy of coverage in Model Railroader, the hobbyists’ bible. Sixteen years later, with the help of several professionals, Posey’s layout was complete. Along the way, he learned a great deal, not just about model trains, but about what makes his fellow hobbyists tick. As with any obsession, model trains bring out strong opinions; railroaders are divided between those who strive for utter realism and those whose layouts are a form of artistic expression. The one may center on a particular day of operation of an actual train line, each event occurring with stopwatch precision. The other might build a miniature city, complete down to the trash in the back seat of a parked car. Posey visits a number of famous layouts, each a revelation of the hold railroading exerts on its devotees. It is an overwhelmingly male obsession, and its demographic has inexorably crept up toward retirement age. With genuine charm and affection, Posey portrays the railroaders, their layouts, and the passion that drives them.

A fascinating glimpse into the HO-scale world.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 2004
ISBN: 1-4000-6178-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2004