Monday, December 13, 2010

"The Art of"...Another Example

As you have read in my blog, I have projected various examples of the term "the art of" by describing the process of creativity in different incarnations; for example, my experience in bread-making, and the resultant list of exotic breads I had created.
Or, to cite other examples of creativity; the way that Oppenheimer dealt with physics as a true art form by way of the exultant process of discovery, or a method of escapism as demonstrated by a legendary soldier, General Omar Bradley, who would deal with the processes of possibilities through Calculus as a kind of escape during the extreme stresses of waging war.
Truly; any activity dealing with the creative process is, of itself, an art form.
And so, another example of "the art of:"
About thirty-odd years ago, I thought that I would return to one of my first loves; that is, the railroad train. One of my early remembrances was - upon hearing a steam engine approaching if I were near the railroad station, I would run as fast as my little legs would take me in order to watch one of those wonderful metal monsters, white steam pouring upwards from its stack, lumbering in my direction as it began its grinding to a halt on the track I was standing besides. I cannot possibly know how many times I did that very same thing as a child. I was utterly fascinated by the size, the power, the sounds of this thing called a train.
On my tenth birthday, my father, knowing of my fascination with trains, purchased my first electric train - it was a "streamliner," with four cars attached, on an oval track with a pair of switches, which took the train onto a different set of tracks. I spent countless hours playing with this train set, and it was, for a considerable part of my young years, a love second only to my music.
As an adult, I decided to return to the train by going into building a model railroad, and started by putting an oval track in the bedroom with an 027-gauge train, one of the larger sized train models. That lasted for a short time, as both my wife and I tired of tripping over the tracks in the dark.
To shorten this saga, I moved everything downstairs to what HAD been the dining room, and went to HO-gauge, which is 1/87th life size, giving me much room to construct what, over the years, was my personal railroad empire.
On a six - by - six foot table complex, I constructed an entire village, surrounded by mountains, with three different trains running on separate track systems. My first incarnation was a village in summer. And so, over many months of putting buildings together, piece by piece (some structures had over 300 pieces), installing ground and grass and trees, with stones gathered from the back yard, which became boulders at 1/87th scale, of course, along with such items as a woman hanging out clothes to dry; a parade down Main Street; children plunging into the village pond; an outdoor wedding with the couple in formal clothing surrounded by family and friends; a complete shopping area, with people bustling back and forth carrying packages; dogs frisking about; a tunnel into which the train would disappear and emerge from the tunnel at the base of a mountain in the distance; a restaurant which, with electric motors I had installed, would slowly revolve at a rate of one revolution per minute at the top of a tower, much like the restaurant at Niagara Falls. I also constructed a merry-go-round, with horses moving up and down. There were many other objects on this table too numerous to mention - all of this with three trains moving, each at a different speed. I eventually was able to mount a device into the engines, which blared out the sounds endemic to train sounds, which included whistles as well, each train independent of the others in the sounds, with the chug of the steam corresponding in pulse with the speed of the wheels. It was all almost like having learned a piece of music, with the same sense of achievement and pleasure, I can assure you - I had learned so much about the miracle of electricity by doing all of this.
I then decided to shroud my village in Winter, and took away all of the greenery, substituting snow, clothing all the people in winter garb (by the way, there were about 250 people on this diorama, along with cars and buses), added some skiers, and ice-skaters whirling around the pond which had changed from water to ice.
As a final move, I added a mono-rail above the entire village, which slowly circled the community above the buildings, and installed tiny speakers in snowbanks from which came the sounds of children singing Christmas carols - I added fiber optics to many trees, so that they all glistened with the lights of the Holiday.
I was more than sad, when I finally dismantled my empire, so that we could have our dining room back once again - all of that material is but a memory now, no longer in my home; HOWEVER, there ARE photos and camcorder tapes as proof that my childhood love had returned later in life.
For me, another chapter in "the art of."

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