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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gorre and Daphetid Railroad

I don't spend a lot of time reminiscing about my childhood. It was a good childhood, but the rest of my life has been pretty good as well. Since I am not compelled to escape into the past, my childhood is generally a fond but distant memory.

Occasionally, however, I have a spark of memory that compels me to think on those days past. It is often a pleasant journey. Such was my recent recollection of John Allen and the Gorre and Daphetid Railroad. John built the G&D (Gorre and Daphetid) as an epic model railroad. Being a professional photographer, he built this massive model to be photographed.

A play on words is common in model railroading. Gorre (Gory) and Daphetid (Defeated) is such. There were others here and there in the huge model project. Unfortunately, I only explored the G&D through model railroading magazines. Being young, I was rather oblivious to word play in the adult world. Now, years later, those images of the G&D are not readily available. Those that are prove to be quite expensive, and properly so.

The G&D was huge. It was complex. It was highly detailed, and probably one of the best examples of the art form that was model railroading. John was an adult, and had a disposable income. Most of my model railroading was done in my youth, a time of small funds for me. My efforts to emulate this master railroader were child's play. Worthy efforts, but limited.

My first model railroad was given to me by my Grandpa and Grandma Laatz. It was a Marx HO scale toy train. My father helped me to attach the tracks to a sheet of plywood that would slip under the bed. We painted roads and other features on the plywood. My father is a good painter, an artist, so the work had more than a childish quality.

With limited funds I was able to occasionally get a cardboard model house or some street lights or such. HO cars and trucks. I added surface textures and eventually a tunnel made of cardboard and plaster. For a first effort it wasn't bad.

Unfortunately, I am not the kind of guy who took meticulous care of these old toys and now has them to display. I can't recall where they went, other than a lot of items from my childhood were not there when I returned from my time in the Army. That is probably as it should be.

My next model railroad was an N gauge set I saved up to purchase. The plywood was a thing of the past, and the HO train was in a box. This smaller gauge allowed me to do more railroad in a smaller space. My next effort had elevations and mountains and tunnels and such. I had lichen foliage and  more detailed plastic buildings. There were track switches and crossings and all sorts of things. I added more sophisticated wiring that allowed me to run two trains at the same time.

I continued to putter about with my valiant but limited efforts, and continued to monitor the G&D through model railroad magazines. Eventually John Allen died, and the G&D was lost in a house fire. Now both only exist in archived photos, old books and magazines, and the minds and hearts of several model railroading generations.

I am forever grateful to John Allen and still inspired by the memory of the Gorre and Daphetid Railroad. I am also thankful for a great childhood, my grandparents and my parents, and all of their support.

Life was good then. It still is.

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