Wednesday, April 13, 2016

E. L. Moore and the influence of Bill Schopp

The Molasses Mine and Factory is one of the strangest E. L. Moore projects, and even stranger, it was turned into a plastic kit by AHM. Where did the idea come from? Did he actually spend time in the Bryson City jail as he suggests in the Molasses Mine tall tale? Well, speculation has come to an end, at least for the idea, the jury is still out concerning jail. It was long time Railroad Model Craftsman contributor Bill Schopp, aka The Layout Doctor, who slid a couple of ideas into E. L. Moore’s brain via postcard. 

‘Twas through the kind offices of your loyal helper, Bill Schopp, that the idea of a molasses mine was tendered . . . I thought I might as well make the most of it and could be some will actually believe there was such a plant. Every now and then Bill comes through with a postcard and a brainstorm thereon.
In the 3 Oct ’68 cover letter for the Molasses Mine and Factory manuscript, E. L. Moore enlightens Hal Carstens on the mine’s origin.

Turns out Mr. Schopp was also the idea-man behind Garbage Train or The Mudville Flats Extra that appeared in the July ’69 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.

Worked up Bill Schopp’s idea and got it off the board -- ol’ Cannonball Waste Express, sort of a take-off on the San Francisco’s Excess Express, traction engine with fan propellor to keep stink and flies from engine crew, horse and wagon age when garbage would fatten a hawg when not so much was orders in triplicate, TV dinner trays and Christmas wrappings.
In the 5 Jan ’69 cover letter for the Nova Scotian Lighthouse article that appeared in the Oct ’69 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, E. L. Moore tells Hal Carstens what he’s been up to and who was responsible.

But, all good things must come to an end.

You’ve gone off the deep end several times of late with garbage train, molasses mine, etc. Let’s turn to more serious stuff: Regret nothing comes to mind.
In a 25 Mar ’69 letter to E. L. Moore, Hal Carstens, implores him to get serious, but seems not to have a suggestion for how to do that.

Apparently a mark of getting serious again is the construction of a car repair shed.

You easing a hint I should return to sanity and leave off fantasy? Relly [sic], I’m just going the pace the world is setting, and if they’s anything sane about it then I’m cockeyed. Y’all figure maybe a car repair shed is sane enough -- building one for a friend at the moment.
In a friendly update letter to Hal Carstens, dated 2 Apr ’69, E. L. Moore reflects philosophical on the nature of sanity in relation to the modern world. The odd Molasses Mine now and then is pretty tame stuff all things considered.

The car repair shed did see the light of day in the obviously titled Car Repair Shed in the Nov ’69 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. Here’s the accompanying cover letter.

16th of April 1969

Ye honorable Editor
RMC Ramsey, N. J.

Here’s a train shed I made for a friend . . . . maybe you can use it. Only half phantasy -- I remodeled somebody’s model into something else again.

If ‘n’ when I find something I can use as a starting point I’ll make up train shed with big brass cubicle above but first I gotta find something authentic as a starter -- the egg, that is . . . . I’ll add the feathers and wings.

Gonna start that youngun on N gauge shortly? He’s about that big -- big enough to be a wrecker.

signed E. L. Moore

E. L. Moore
525 Oakland Ave., Apt 3
Charlotte, N. C.

“... train shed with big brass cubicle above...”? Darned if I know what he’s talking about. Maybe it’s a joke I don’t get. Wouldn’t be the first time. Maybe there’s a Bill Schopp postcard out there that explains everything :-)

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