Sunday, July 3, 2016

Summer hiatus

I'm taking a little blogging break for the summer. I've got a few things on the go, and my posts are getting a bit stale, so I thought I'd take a break, and the summer is the best time for it :-) I'll be back in the fall, hopefully recharged and refocused with more Moore, streetcar, buildings, and whatever stuff!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

E. L. Moore gets suggestions from Hal Carstens

E. L. Moore and Hal Carstens, editor and publisher of Railroad Model Craftsman, had a lengthy and altogether friendly correspondence throughout the 1960s. Although E. L. Moore was 27 years older, the letters have a feeling of friendly, good-natured banter between old friends that usually went beyond pragmatic business correspondence. Many of Mr. Carsten’s letters to E. L. Moore contained suggestions for projects, several of which did become articles in Railroad Model Craftsman. With the other magazines, E. L. Moore mainly either submitted completed articles on speculation, or in later years when the magazines adopted more formal vetting processes, proposals for articles. He submitted plenty of unsolicited stuff to RMC, but the others didn't make suggestions anywhere near what Hal Carstens did. Hal Carstens though liked to push him a bit, and that was good because among other things it resulted in the Enskale and Hoentee Railroad, one of Mr. Moore’s major projects, and kicked off the models that would become plastic kits that are still available today. In the paragraphs below I’ve transcribed some extracts from a number of letters Hal Carstens wrote to E. L. Moore where Mr. Carstens floats some ideas for Mr. Moore to consider.

21 May 1962

Damn that Damn Yankee . . . 

Fourth, whatever happened to the Spumoni family? You’re an accomplished photographer. How about some good - one or two - possible shots having a strong center of interest, shot vertically and allowing for insertion of the RMC logotype in the upper left hand corner. Either by itself or as a lead photo to an article. BUT it’ll have to be something of railroad interest as opposed to windmills and such pastoral jazz.

1 June 1964

E. L. Moore,

How about doing some kind of article for a fall issue in which some kinda structure - not too ramshackle - is used as a campaign headquarters. Maybe a double store in which one side is for the Johnsonians and t’other side for the Lodges or Rockymen or Au2H2O people or whatever. Should auta be kinda fun. Maybe even a band or two thrown in. Hmm? With a suitable cover photo, shot vertical like.

8 April 1965

Howdy there Ee-El:

Would like to see some more complicateder opuses, like the factory. Like these ideas - which you may discard if they create grist for your thinking apparatus; two level depot with stairway to the second level tracks crossing the lower. An ancient brick (red of course) warehouse. Even another type of warehouse spelled somewhat differently would be fun altho too many readers would take offense so it must regretfully be bypassed. Operating bascule bridge of a smallish type. What would an abandoned trolley line look like? A sorghum factory would be sorta sweet to see. Etc.

2 December 1965

Hi Colonel . . . 

Thinking about new projects, seems to me you should broaden your spectrum. Like the old brick packing houses down by the depot in many larger cities, or wharf and pier, complete with railroad tracks; along the waterfront. And a Tugboat named Annie [Wharf an’ Annie]. Or some kinda old mill or factory in which car rolls under or into the building. 

Another idea would be for some kinda old time coaling tower of wood construction. Hard to beat Alexander though with their FM tower of wood. Its a dandy . . .  And I don’t think anybody has ever come up with a practical HO rotating type bridge or an HO lift bridge.

5 July 1966

Hi Yourself . . .

Some one of these days I must commission you to build an old weathered brick brewery or distillery, with slightly more northern construction, for use on my new pike. Construction proceedeth slowly. Wouldn’t do to have vats in the open where various types of nectar would be diluted by rain or damaged beyond repair by frost and snow and ice. In fact the Schaefer Brewing people have a model of their original plant and maybe plans for same could be obtained. Must check this out.

E. L. Moore's Schaefer Brewery project appeared in the March '67 issue of RMC and later was the first of the E. L. Moore projects to be turned into plastic kits.

11 July 1966

Hi Pea-Picker . . .

Another project I have which I’d as leave pass on to somebody else involves the construction of a double track viaduct patterned after the Starucca Viaduct on the Erie, about 24” high and perhaps 3 or 4 ft. long, on a 36” radius curve. HO scale. A glimpse of same in RMC April 1966 issue page 27.

26 July 1966

Dear Johnny Reb . . . 

OK, so don’t build a six foot long viaduct. Wouldn’t want you to upset your daily routine.

Starting to get the germ of another idea which needs be built all of wood, but which has to be researched out a bit first. Might be right up your alley. Might even relent and let you use balsa wood. Better not say anymore, lest your eyes get tired as you relax on your hammock, is it?

28 June 1967

Hi Sport . . . 

In the railroad line, some waterfront structures with pilings and such might be interesting, and provide a good edging for a layout. Or some kinda terminal station, perhaps stub ended, suitable for a smaller railroad which might still be blessed with half way decent passenger service. Remember a covered platform on the Bath and Something-or-other in Maine back about 1950 that was on a curve and real cute.

A tug boat and barge wouldn’t be a bad article either, if you could do it decently authentic about 1900 vintage . . .  How practical would a model of the old brick structures that was in the RMC Dec. 1965 center fold in the Wallworth painting? And in which our office is? The front would be the roughest part. One side (left) is plain brick with no windows and butts against another building. Railroad side has mostly simple windows not shown in photo or painting, but for which data is available. Rear has since been added to, but was plain brick with a coupla windows, data for which is available. Tower is gone. Be kinda big but cute . . .  A country ice house might be interesting, for trolley lovers so they can have an ice car. Or railroad  . . . But enough. It is summer and I must not wear you out.

22 July 1967

Hullo Dere, Corpoull . . . .

Must dig you up some photos and data on early trolley terminals at ferry terminals. Fascinating old beasties in infinite variation, but all with certain common traits: such as sheds over the loading and unloading tracks, return loops, wooden construction, oft a store or two selling railroad workmen’s clothing, or a newsstand. In fact, I know just the photo for you to follow. Must copy same and send you. Right loverly.

2 January 1968

Dear Mr. Moore . . . 

New Year and I should find you a nice fancy project to latch into. You’ve already done a distillery, and a brewery, and a mortuary, etc. Take a look-see into Moody Maine Narrow Gauge Book and look at the Maine Central-2 foot Monson (?) terminal, where the one fed the other. Covered train shed, and the NG crossed over the Std gauge. Believe I have seen further pix. Maybe Crittenden has more. Was all wood. Quite simple really.

A working HO turntable article hasn’t been done in many a moon, especially if it could be rigged for remote control, as Lionel would say.

More great ideas: a wooden coal mine where cars roll underneath and mine is on hill...a small ferry terminal where trains and trolleys terminate . . . The arts of modeling a big city using 3rd dimensional backdrop techniques to save space. Elision was a great one with this . . .  How I built a model railroad suitable for HO or N: framework, track and roadbed, scenery, etc. Maybe you have better ideas.

That second last sentence, How I built a model railroad suitable for HO or N, would kick-off the Enskale and Hoentee Railroad project that appeared in RMC at the end of the year.

27 March 1968

Hi there, littul feller!

So - cheers. Hey, maybe some time I’ll send you some photos of Bumble Bee* and let you try your hand at modeling a whole bloody town: big cabin, 5 smaller cabins, abandoned schoolhouse, a coupla sheds and chic sales, a general store, a gold mine-hole-into-the-ground sorta thing, and a dirt road. Should set the great society back about 75 years.

[*Updated 19 July 2016: I didn't know what 'Bumble Bee' referred to until I read Hal Carstens' article The First Fifty Years in the March 1983 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. In it he notes, In 1956, the Penn's [Charles and Helen Penn, the previous publishers of RMC] bought the town of Bumble Bee, Arizona, and built a number of full-size false front western buildings from HO construction articles which had appeared in RAILROAD MODEL CRAFTSMAN - modeling on a grand scale!]

24 May 1968

Hi . . . 

Ever think about doing a real covered depot like they dang Yankees used to make because of the cold snowy winters? Or snow tunnels like they had in the mountains for the same reason.

25 March 1969

Hi Buddy,

In discussing a contemplated article with people here, it was thought that it might be interesting to see what Mr. Moore, of Charlotte, could turn up on the following subject:

A typical fantrip scene, with a big engine at the head end of a mottly looking bunch of passenger cars, definitely including a baggage car with the doors open and two wood slat stuck across so as the faithful won’t fall out. A dining car where the railfan establishment can watch the scenery whilst fortified with good Yankee applejack. A railfan making off with a bell offn a loco. Another railfan sound recording the engine. A coupla guys taking loco pictures with 1000 railfans in front. Another railfan measuring a spike. Three railfans in the cab. A railroad cop chasing three more railfans offn the track so No. 1 can go by at 80mph. Etc.

Didjaver think about a lift bridge article? Didjaver think about a railroad terminal building, with thru tracks underneath and the big brass offices upstairs. Maybe a trolley or subway line underneath also?

Just in those letters alone, Hal Carstens tries 5 different times to suggest projects of interest to trolley modellers, but E. L. Moore, being admittedly not interested in trolleys, never took the bait.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Electric Highway

An old idea gets new life in Sweden. There's an interesting history of trolley buses and trolley trucks at Low Tech Magazine.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Index to the E. L. Moore files excerpts

Over the last 8 or so months I’ve been reading and scanning a stack of E. L. Moore’s manuscripts and letters that were generously loaned to me by a collector. There were 1,189 pages, and as the lead photo of my reading copy shows, the scans more-or-less fill 3, 3” binders. This material covers the years,

June 1961 to December 1963
February 1964 to January 1968
June 1968 to July 1976
January 1977 to July 1978

As you can see there are gaps in the record, and material prior to mid-1961 and after mid-1978 is missing. Given that Mr. Moore died in August 1979, there might not be much material for the post July '78 period, but there could be extensive material missing for the pre-1961 era given that his first published article was in 1955. As well, there could be missing items from the time periods shown in the list, but frankly, it's amazing that anything has survived all these years, and I'm very glad to have been able to see it.

From my reading of the surviving collection, I suspect there could be up to an equal amount of manuscripts and correspondence in addition to this material. It might be still out there somewhere; it might be lost; I have no idea. However, I've been alerted that there is a small collection of E. L. Moore original photographs in existence, and if all goes well I hope to see them before the end of the summer. I'm keeping my fingers crossed :-) My plan is to assemble all the E. L. Moore material I can find and put together some sort of book or digital collection. 

Anyway, since I’ve come to the end of the collection I thought I’d create an index of the excerpt posts I’ve made along the way,

E. L. Moore gets suggestions from Hal Carstens

I do plan to post further excerpts as I go back, re-read stuff and make connections I didn't see on the first reading.

[Last updated 4 July 2016]

A little more Ottawandering

Through some online wandering I came across this trailer for Ottawander. It gives a 60 second look at the show's visual style. Over at SoundCloud you'll find a number of sets from Ottawander by the Orienteers. Here's one simply called wandering,

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

E. L. Moore on getting older

[E. L. Moore's North Conway Station]

My goddamned legs are going to remain numb but I can get around pretty well . . .  worse is my numb finger tips . . .  I gotta watch the keys pretty close and still make mistakes . . . but I manage.

Why the hell do I have to spend all the time I do on those cussed drawings (except in the interests of accuracy) when you have them done over anyway. Still it ain’t really work, just tedious, since I can sit in my easy chair and do them. But damit I gotta move around a lot to photograph the stuff and printing the pictures is a helluva strain on the gut. I type a couple of pages then go lie down a while, then type a couple more but they eventually all get typed. It’s much more fun writing in longhand in bed. But hell, I got no complaints, much, I eat well, got plenty of leisure, lots of books and don’t get up until I get damned good and ready . . .  except to feed my cats. When they get hungry they won’t let me sleep.
E. L. Moore, age 79, in the cover letter to Kelley’s Folly, to Tony Koester, then editor of Railroad Model Craftsman, dated 26 May 1977.

Legs never going to get any better but I get around pretty well -- numbness in finger tips is more bothersome, causing me to watch my keys : ... no more touch typewriting. But I got no real complaints -- old age would [sic] be so bad if one didn’t keep on getting older. Lots of oldsters complain of poverty, loneliness and being bored . . . .  I ain’t got none of those bothering me . . .  and I’ve got good and constant company and bedmates -- my cats. So what the hell!
E. L. Moore, in a letter to then editor of Model Railroader, Russ Larson, dated 29 May 1977.

Just a brief note, E. L., to let you know that some cantankerous old buzzard is sending me nasty notes under your name. After all these years of hard work I’ve finally become editor and I still don’t get no respect.

By the way, I’d like to buy both articles: “The Village Store” and “Butz Milling and Feed Co.” The snow scene of the village store would be a nice addition to one of our winter issues.

Keep in touch. Your postcards help brighten our day.
Extract from a letter Russ Larson wrote to E. L. Moore dated 30 August 1977. It looks like E. L. Moore was sending Russ Larson letters with some harsh words intermingled with the usual Moore-isms. I haven’t seen the whole exchange, just some surviving pieces so I don’t know what caused this or when it started. I suspect it might have been the usual annoyances and frustrations a writer encounters magnified by ill health. Russ Larson handled it with charm and professionalism, and things cranked back a few notches as time went on. And Mr. Larson kept buying submissions from E. L. Moore.

Me, I been feeling right pert until I read of that Greek bastard, 98 years old, who, it was reported, ran 42 miles in less than eight hours. Hell’s bells, I’d do well to walk eight miles in 42 hours. Says he gave up sex at 85 . . .  I assume he ran out of women. Just to read of him congeals my blood and makes me want to bury my head in the sand to my toes. Only thing is I’ve always wanted to go back to the land but I don’t want it writ on my tombstone “When I said I wanted to go back to the land I didn’t mean this deep.”
Extracted from a E. L. Moore wrote to Russ Larson dated 1 September 1977.

This is not -- and I repeat -- is not something an inexperienced modeler should tackle. It is, in fact, the largest and most complicated structure I’ve ever built, and except that was done as a favor for a friend, one Fred Kelley, a no good Irishman, I would never have attempted it at all. Yet it turned out to be fun, and a challenge, and hard work all rolled into one.
The opening paragraph to E. L. Moore’s unpublished manuscript for The North Conway Depot submitted to Model Railroader on 6 January 1978. Russ Larson accepted it. It’s interesting that during a period when he admittedly wasn’t at his best healthwise, he still produced what he thought was his largest and most complex model building.

And now the doc says I gotta cut my sex life in half. “Which half?” I asks, “thinking or talking about it.”
Extracted from a letter E. L. Moore wrote to Russ Larson dated 12 January 1978.

One of these could be me -- two old codgers sitting on a park bench -- one says: “E. L. remember in years past how we useta set on this very bench and watch all them gals goin’ by in their fancy dresses?”
“Yep, I remember.”
“You remember how we useta look at their purty round bottoms as they went by?”
“Yup -- I recollect. What I can’t remember is why?”
Another extract from that 12 January 1978 letter.

E. L. Moore died on 12 August 1979.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Go ahead, soak up the sun, I dare you :-)

A few days ago I was wandering through the grocery store looking for oatmeal, Muzak lulling me into a stupor. Then Sheryl Crow’s Soak Up the Sun came on. Now, I like to think of myself as a sophisticated music snob, no fluffy pop for me thank you very much, but I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard her. I mindlessly stared at some gluten-free cardboard thing masquerading as food while my brain went into automatic and shot life affirming goodness all throughout my neocortex. I was instantly happy. Snob or not, I can’t argue with that.

So, I buy my stupid oatmeal, go home and go straight to youTube. Ah. 
Then I look it up on Wikipedia and find this,

The lyrics describe first the singer's experience of exclusion from revolutionary leftist organizing, then the alienation she experiences as a laborer in a capitalist, consumer culture. The singer then cynically suggests mental illness may be responsible for humanity's continued participation in these dysfunctional systems.

Good grief. Here I am thinking it’s merely some naive, new agey, hippy, surfy*, feel good song about trying to be happy in the moment with what you’ve got, but it’s actually trying to subvert our entire capitalist culture ;-) But, forget about Groucho Marx for a minute, here’s all I need to know,

I don't have digital
I'm gonna soak up the sun
Got my 45 on
So I can rock on

And where can you get those 45s? Stella’s Used Records and Starlight Yoga Studio of course. It’s been in a forlorn, unusable, unloved, neglected condition for years (!) now. While I’m fixing stuff up, I figured I should fix it up too. Maybe by the end of the summer it'll be in business.
Ok, I’m a sluggard, but I went ahead and built the most important part of any record store: the record bins and cash desk. They need some more work, but at least the basics are done.

Excuse me comrade while I look for my sunscreen.


*Let me say that surfers do know one thing that has model railroading potential: build surfboards. 

Go to Google and search on: how to build a wooden surfboard. You’ll see something like these images.
Maybe there is something there for the layout builder to learn from.
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