Building A Scale Model Past


I’ve commented before on the little worlds that people build – how they love to make models of sailing ships, airplanes, trains and cars – the degree of detail that can be lavished on a doll house or miniature building. There is a very great deal of innocent fun in it all.

There is also more serious side – though it is generally on the side of the angels. The little world builder may well be engaged in building or repairing bridges to their past – and might be doing their brain a great deal of good in the process.

While I spent a childhood building plastic scale models…and failing to fly control line airplanes or complete a model train layout – I spread my efforts over a vast area. Battleships, race cars, railway cranes, tanks, and tugboats all passed through my hands. I think it was good practice for hand/eye coordination and it certainly taught me the proportions and look of many different vehicles. But nearly all my building as a kid was exotic subjects – very little had any real relevance to my own life.

Well, reel forward to now – 60 years later – and I am back at the building bench. I’ve passed through two careers and used some of the skills learned as a child to cope with each one of them. Now I am going to re-acquire some of that hand/eye coordination that I laid aside in 2008 and the subjects are going to be portions of my own childhood and youthful memories.

Already it is helping me to remember details of cars and trucks we owned, and places where they worked. I am actively engaged in tracking down miniature ways to represent my own memories…to myself. Some things are gone now, but I hope they will resurface with the look of a model or the smell of a solvent. The subjects are not going to be exotic – I sailed aboard very few battleships as a child…and while I admire the efforts of the Chinese die cast model makers I cannot see any purpose in collecting Ferrari grand prix racers – I was never near one in my life. I am going to be delighted with such humble vehicles as a GMC boom truck or Allis Chalmers air compressor. Or a 20′ sea container, which I just bought an model of. Can’t get much humbler than that…

Laugh if you will, but it is much the same as an old Englishman making a model of the railway station and high street of his youth. Every model completed means a strengthening of the mind. It’s my excuse for staving off senility.

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