Saturday, September 16, 2017

E. L. Moore gets the cover of Aug '63 RMC

Title tells all. That's E. L. Moore's Octagonal Water Tower that appeared in the issue along with the 3rd part of Gil Melle's Oak Hill Pithead project and Whit Tower's Single Stall Engine House, so it was a gold mine for structure builders. As well as being an E. L. Moore cover, it's also in that style of splashing the image over the entire page, something that Model Railroader was also doing during that period, but often with a little more daring in that they sometimes left off just about all text and let the image do the talking. Although, I wouldn't be surprised to find an RMC cover in that league.

Gil Mellé: Jazz Legend, Model Railroader Extraordinaire

I’m reading though a stack of early ‘60s Railroad Model Craftsmans, and I’m here to say they strike me as having just the right balance of irreverent fun, quality projects, excellent photography, news flashes, skilled drawings and interesting prototype information. But as my magazine mould induced hallucinatory reading trip through 1960, ’61, ’62, and ’63 continued, one name seemed to appear in each and every table of contents with some sort of fascinating construction project: Gil Mellé. Those years seemed to be a Gil Mellé catered smorgasbord of model structure building goodness. For the most part, he had an article in every issue, and sometimes two. His name doesn’t appear on RMC’s masthead, so I don’t think he was a staffer, but he clearly had some solid business arrangement with them. I really need to create a Gil Mellé master index.

RMC author Gil Mellé dropped into these hallowed walls recently with his latest creation. Gil is a one time model railroad manufacturer, artist, jazz musician, composer and has even written singing commercials. His latest creation will be shown in the March issue: an old brick foundry complete with sound. Gil describes the construction of both the foundry and the sound unit, which can be installed into any industrial structure.
From Hal Carsten's Notes on an Old Timetable in the February '62 issue of RMC

The Feb '62 and Jan '64 issues spilled the beans on Mr. Mellé. It turns out he’s Gil Mellé the famous jazz saxophonist, painter, sculptor and composer. Marc Myers has two excellent posts on him at JazzWax: Gil Mellé: Blue Note and Prestige  and Denny Mellé on Husband Gil. There's also a biography at the Blue Note records site. Gil Mellé was no slouch of a model builder either, although you’d never know that from his skimpy entry on wikipedia’s celebrity model railroaders page.

MEET GIL MELLE' - Jazz musician, band leader, composer, Gil has had original works played at the United Nations and has had his group featured on lp recordings. Some years ago Gil also had a fling at kit manufacturing under the name "Industrial Model Works" but gave it up to return to music and oil painting, at which he has also received a number of awards and one man shows in New York and other cities. Gil enjoys turning out super construction features for RMC and thinks model railroading is more fun than ever for the creative model railroader. Gil is married to another musician, known under her stage name of Jackie Parker. The couple have a little girl, Lisa.
Biographical note accompanying Gil Mellé's Mountain Flotation Plant that appeared in the January '64 issue of RMC. The lead photo to this post - a slightly larger version actually - accompanied the bio.

Now, you may be asking yourself: JD, I hate to ask a heretical question such as this, but do you think Gil Mellé was better than E. L. Moore? Well, thanks for asking – and it’s not the least bit heretical  :-) - but I don’t think such a ranking is applicable. They both offered their own unique perspectives and a broad range of building projects for beginners and advanced modellers alike. GM had great drawings beyond plan views; ELM had great stories; GM was doing excellent kitbashes as well as scratch builds; ELM was showing how to do the most with the least; no doubt there’s more once I dive deeper into the Gil Mellé legacy. They were both equally part of the fun early ‘60s vibe that comes across in those musty RMCs.

Friday, September 15, 2017

E. L. Moore's Autobiography

It’s one thing to get familiar with E. L. Moore’s work through scans of his articles, and it’s completely another to see them in the wild, in their natural environment, nestled within the pages of the magazines and jostling with all the other cool stuff. So, I’m casually strolling through the June 1962 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, the one with E. L. Moore’s Vermont Covered Bridge article, and what do I see on page 9: that up there! Yeah, his ‘autobiography’ and selfie that I wrote about back in January 2016. I’m glad to see it got published.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Coincidence houses

[The Moore house, drawn by Julian Cavalier, Railroad Model Craftsman, July 1996; The Lowe house, drawn by Julian Cavalier, Railroad Model Craftsman, December 1994]

As I read through Railroad Model Craftsman, one month after another, one year after another, I sometimes see unusual coincidences. I don't think there is any connection to the Moore and Lowe that show up here, but who knows what other coincidences are ahead :-)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Box of Telegrams

I asked Vince if he knew of a 3D printing company that made HO scale newspaper boxes like the ones that were common on the streets of Toronto in the '60s and '70s. He didn't know of any, but it got us talking about how to make some. It seemed that folding one up from card or thin brass might be the way to go. I tried making one from 3x5 card. Mine's a simplification: it doesn't have the characteristic splayed base or feet of the real ones, and it's a bit on the blocky side. Also, I think it needs to be a little smaller and its proportions tweaked a bit, but overall it's heading in the right direction. 
[The original Telegram building that was once located, I believe, at Bay & Melinda (image sourced from the City of Toronto Archive). Given my chronic E. L. Moore fixation, it instantly reminded me of his RMC Paper Co., and like the Paper Co, it would need considerable selective compression to produce a useable model. And yes, there appears to streetcar tracks running by :-)]

My newspaper box is based on one of the many styles used by the old Toronto Telegram. For a convincing street scene I'll also need boxes from the other papers. This is all part of trying to figure out what the elements are that encapsulate a Toronto feeling that the new streetcar layout needs to incorporate.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

End of Summer Edition

Astronomically speaking, the fall doesn't begin until 22 September, but for me it has always ended on the Labour Day weekend. This summer's been much colder and wetter than usual - today, it was +6C when I woke up! But, given what's going on in my old stomping grounds down in Houston, I've got nothing to complain about. If you can spare some cash for the Red Cross' Harvey relief, I'm sure it would be most appreciated. 
Earlier in the month I cut up the old layout - the Lost Ocean Line that I started work on in 2011 - that's been stashed out behind the garden shed since February and put it out for garbage pickup. It's surprising how little material actually makes up the layout once all the buildings and scenery and such are removed. Hopefully there'll be much new and exciting layout building taking place throughout the fall. I want to have something running by Christmas, so at my usual glacial pace, I need to get going :-)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

An inadvertent homage to E. L. Moore?


Well, maybe.

Ok, no.

The photographer, with his camera and tripod (wire, balsa and a jewel for lens) has a bit of Kleenex for a focusing cloth, and his head is stuck to the back of the camera with liquid solder.
E. L. Moore explaining how he built his photographer - his alter ego - from a Weston Flexible Freddie in Put Your Figures to Work that appeared in the July 1957 issue of Model Railroader.

I saw that scene in the photo, with the Moorian photographer in the lower right corner, in the lead photo to The Saga of the Elk River Line that appeared in the May 1970 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. If you recall the post The Adventures of E. L. Moore, Train Photographer, you'll notice the similarities of the photographer to E. L. Moore's are, as Yogi Berra might say, very similar. My guess is it's all a coincidence, but illustrates that a man with an E. L. Moore fixation thinks everything relates in some way to E. L. Moore :-)

P.S., Dave Frary and Bob Hayden's Elk River Line series that appeared in RMC during 1970 is another classic series and is well worth looking up.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Emma's = 2 x Ma's

[Centre pages from The Holiday Inn It's Not by Jeff Scott from the October 1972 issue of Railroad Modeler]

In early November '72 E. L. Moore received this letter from Al McDuffie of Associated Hobby Manufacturers in Philadelphia.  AHM was the company that produced plastic kit versions of a number of E. L. Moore's RMC projects. Ma's Place was one.

November 6, 1972

Mr. E. L. Moore
525 Oakland Avenue
Charlotte, N. C., 28204

Dear Mr. Moore:

1. Under separate cover (don't think they'd fit in this envelope actually) I have sent off to you our two latest plastic structural kits - a wooden styled Coaling Station and our new "Speedy Andrews" Repair Shop.

2. I think you'll get a kick out of what the German manufacturer did to create the Repair Shop, since it is based on the main parts from Ma's Place?

3. I have done some experimenting recently with the original Ma's Place kit, and it certainly lands itself to kit-bashing, doesn't it? Even saw a article in Railroad Modeler (I believe it was) where several were used to create a Boarding House - cleverly done.

4. I hope everything is going fine with you and your still busily thinking up more of your great building ideas?


signed Al McDuffie

Al McDuffie
Product Development

The boarding house was Emma's Boarding House by Jeff Scott that Railroad Modeler ran in its October 1972 issue under the title The Holiday Inn It's Not. It's a rambling structure that used 2 AHM Ma's Place kits and a bunch of odds and ends. Ma's Place has had a life somewhat similar to Dilly Mfg. Co. / 8-Ball Loco Works: it has persisted in many forms and in many places from the time it was first created right into our era.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Somebody snatched the sign!

I'm reading through my boxes of RMCs and when I got to page 37 of the Nov. '67 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, I noticed the previous owner had carefully sliced out the sign from E. L. Moore's W. E. Snatchem - Undertaker article. If you're out there and reading this post, send me a photo of your model if you did build it and you've still got it. It's good to see evidence of interest in an E. L. Moore project :-)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

E. L. Moore did not inspire The Farmers Market

I grew tired of subsidizing my HO farmers, so I cast about for a suitable market place for the apples and other produce grown in such abundance in this area. The grain elevator, stock yard, etc., didn't begin to provide adequate outlets for the enterprising residents of my 1:87 domain. I got so desperate that I even went down to Charlotte last spring and visited E. L. Moore, hoping to filch an idea, but no luck.
The opening paragraph to Chuck Brigman's The Farmers Market that appeared in the March 1970 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. E. L. Moore 'did not' inspire this model :-)