(Pictured above: The Texas Special. First present my mother bought my dad as a married couple.)
The guys pull into the driveway behind my rental in a huge ford transport van. Well at least they’re serious about getting those train cabinets.
I’ve got two tables full of sets of trains and passenger cars that I still haven’t moved. I’m just hoping to help my sister and lend a hand. Maybe if they buy a few sets I’ll walk out of here with $300 to $500 tops.
I remember these guys. They were so nice and spent some serious dollars with us at the show in York, so I’m hopeful at this point. We all exchange pleasantries and then it’s down to business.
We’ll call these guys Ray and Rob. Ray is the guy who works for the SEC. He’s a little slovenly but extremely sweet and affable. His hair a brown tussle around his face, bespectacled and what could be described as a mushy pasty frame.
His brother Rob I a bigger man. The Contactor. Short brown hair, square face and a more robust frame. You could walk past these guys in a diner and never notice them.
But today we are front and center for our finale performance with them. They’re in our house now, and are sadly outnumbered.
Ray wants to see the trains and the cabinets. I take him upstairs and his brother Rob follows. In the front bedroom I’ve laid out most of my post war O’ gauge trains. There are other things downstairs on another table that they also liked at the show but didn’t buy.
Within minutes they are picking up the trains and looking at them. I go and get my sister for support. I can sell, but she knows trains and prices better than I do.
It doesn’t take long for them to start making offers on some of my stuff. I’m a bit surprised but just go with it. Janice is nodding and giving me the green light on some of the prices they’re offering.
Things are moving quickly, and I can smell the blood in the water and turn on my charm. I’m opening the relationship with them and telling the stories behind these trains that I remember from my youth with my father. It’s an easy role to play because not only did I live it, it’s all true.
Janice, ever the organized teacher, mother and wife, grabs a piece of paper and starts making notes of the offers.
Gotta love her.
We take a break but I can feel the chum in the water and the feeding has begun. We’ll land these fish today. I’ve got a good feeling about this.
We take a break to give them a moment to breathe and look at some more of the things on the table downstairs. They remember some of those pieces and remember their desire for them at the show. I now believe they’ve come for the things they missed a chance to buy at the show.
Janice is scrawling notes on her paper, bless her mathematical heart. They’re interested in a few of the pieces she has on the table too. I’m glad she’s writing all of the offers because I won’t remember them, I’m in full on, fatal charm sales mode and I love it.
Forget my two days of stomach disorders, the four-hour drive down here, my growling stomach, I’m swimming hard and the dorsal fin is cutting through the water towards these plump baby seals.
We step away from the table for a moment to examine and measure the four cabinets. That’s fine. The trains are all sitting out in their glory, ready for the taking. We’re already over a thousand dollars for the moment.
Based on the space in Ray’s home and the size of the cabinets he thinks he can only take two.
Janice’s son, Zane and the boys start unbolting them from the walls and I offer what help I can. His girlfriend, Blair is offering advice on how to best angle and move the units without breaking them or shattering the glass. She doesn’t say much but when she offers a different strategy it always seems to work. I’m just trying not to get crushed by one of the cabinets falling down the stairs.
I’m too valuable to lose in a careless accident, who’ll close this deal in a grand way and more important document it on phicklephilly?
Janice is there literally clearing the way as they move them out, tossing tables, bookcases and furniture in her wake. It’s a consorted effort and we’re getting it down. Big Rob is the main muscle but Zane has got youth, control and power and he’s a valuable asset to the team.
It’s a little surreal to be in the house that once belonged to my parents for so many years. Other than his kids and his books, his trains were his true love since he was a boy. He built a giant toy railroad in the attic. A museum worthy layout.
I remember how it started. back in the 90’s when the grandchildren were young he built a little circle of train tracks in the corner of our massive attic that was the entire legnth of the improvements. Knowing my father and how he never went cheap or small on anything I knew this little “O” layout would maybe grow.
One day I was in the attic with him, I said to him, “Look at all of the space up here. Aren’t you going to build a giant platform and eventually have all of these train routes running all over the place and the trains will go all the way down to the end around the stairway and loop back up here to the front?”
He just smiled… that sly look of his. His eyes twinkled like Santa Claus. “We’ll see.”
I knew from his history, that it could possibly come to fruition and it did. He built entire towns with people, houses, businesses, cars and most of the trains ran through all of them. It was massive and took up the entire attic. I’ve never seen anything like it. He finally had his own little world where he was the ruler of all of the things he loved that could never fail, betray or hurt him. Just like me with music.
“It’s the only world I can control.” He said.
The custom cabinets he had built to display his treasures. He finally had all the artifacts from his dreams and childhood that he missed so much.
But now they were empty. All of his beautiful treasured toys gone. Not gone like him, but in the hands of new people who will love them again. Dad was only gone in the physical sense. He and Mom still are very much alive in me and my sisters in our words, deeds, memories and laughter.
Now the cabinets were being removed by strangers. It felt a little strange after the collection being such a fixture of this house and his life for so long.
Just empty walls now.
But rich with memories.
Janice and I and my other sisters aren’t going to play with the trains. Our children have no interest in them and live in a world of exotic technology that is far more fascinating than seeing a little steam engine puff around in a circle on the floor. But I’m sure Janice will alway have a train running around her Christmas tree.
The brothers and Zane finally get the two cabinets into their van and return to the house for a cold beverage and to finalize whatever pieces we’re going to sell them today for a fair price.
My sister and I have thought long and hard about this. It’s too many trains. The sets that have real intrinsic value will never be seen except by family and close friends. But we have come to the conclusion that we should put these trains into the hands of the people who will love them and they will continue to live in the hearts and minds of those people now.
We came to this hard realization together on Day 2 at the York show. We just have to muster the courage to do it again today and wrap this up with these guys for good.
It’s been a difficult journey for the family but we’ll get through it together.
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