Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The E. L. Moore Files: Jones Chemical Co.

[My rendition of E. L. More's Jones Chemical Co.]

E. L. Moore’s Jones Chemical Co. project appeared in the March ’74 issue of Model Railroader. It was the next E. L. Moore article they published after his Bunn’s Feed and Seed in the Aug ’73 issue, and it was the next project of his that I tried to build back in the ‘70s.  I tried it again when I got back into the hobby a few years ago.

My eyes popped out when I saw the cover letter that Mr. Moore wrote to Model Railroader to introduce this article. It’s basically just a bawdy, Benny Hill-esque story. Yeap, you read that right. I won’t transcribe it here as I don’t want to test the Google net-nannies, but you can read it for yourself in the scan of the letter if you’re game. Actually, a lot of stuff anyone can see on prime-time tv these days is saucier than what he wrote.
[E. L. Moore's cover letter to his Jones Chemical Co. article]

Model Railroader’s rather terse response says it all, but they did buy the article and paid him $120; $20 more than for his last one, Bunn’s Feed and Seed. I rather like the letterhead that Model Railroader used at that time. It’s classy in an understated way.
[Model Railroader's acceptance letter]

The manuscript and the published article are more or less the same. Unlike Bunn’s Feed and Seed where the entire fictional story around the project got edited out, only a small portion of the  Jones story about the precariously balanced, little roof-top shack got sliced. For completeness, here’s the story snippet:

"Hey ! Whats about that little house up there on the roof?" asked Eddie.

"A good question. I've never been quite sure, myself," I said. "Could be a watchman's shanty, or maybe a chemical engineer has to be in attendance, I just don't know."

"Or maybe the plant doesn't have indoor toilet facilities," suggested Eddie.

"If it's that, it has to be chemically operated I'll wager," I said.

The story-let suggests to me that the little shack was a way to slip one of his classic outhouse builds into a mainstream project. That might have been a no-no to the editors of a family-oriented magazine. With the article’s story mentioning that bawdy records were part of the payment for the build, the nature of the cover letter story, and the hinted at roof-top outhouse, maybe the entire Jones build was a disguised off-colour joke. Stranger things have happened. I’m curious to see what’s in the manuscripts to come.


  1. Do we have a complete list of his articles anywhere? The NMRA magazine index (http://www.rrmagindex.org:8084/IntroPage.html) seems to list 98 of them (do a search for "Moore"), but I don't know if that's complete (older mag issues have fewer stories listed). And the names haven't all been properly "normalized".

    1. I've been compiling a list and keep it updated periodically here : http://www.30squaresofontario.blogspot.ca/2014/04/e-l-moores-legacy-in-21th-century_30.html
      Looking at it, I should post an update.

  2. that cover letter is an old joke. REALLY old.

    1. I suspect he lifted many of his jokes from old, popular sources.