HO-scale trains have been Randy’s hobby since he was a child growing up in the Bronx. His father used to walk with him to the New York Central Railroad tracks, where they’d sit and watch the trains whiz by. Kind of reminds me of a Norman Rockwell print hanging on our wall.

Bonnie and Randy Dreckmann won’t see snow outside the window when they move to North Carolina, but Randy can build his HO town, “Shiloh,” in any climate he likes. Kristen Prahl/Shutterstock.com

When we lived in our house in Farmingville, New York, Randy built his village in a small area of our basement, and he constantly revised it for 22 years. In 1987 we moved to Maine and he disassembled his layout and carefully packed every piece of track, every bit of scenery, every building and train. He painstakingly numbered each piece of the train board and transported it to Sanford.

Once in Sanford, a new empty basement awaited his magic touch. Randy began to build a bigger and better town in half of our basement. A town, complete with houses, churches, a fire department, a school, a diner, factories, a funeral home, casket company and a train depot. And, most of all, trains. HO trains that chug around the tracks, up and down hills and through tunnels. His vintage town is surrounded with mountains; it is an attractive little town that he created from his imagination and the train magazines that he subscribes to monthly.

When our grandchildren were old enough, he delighted in showing them his town. This was a big treat for them – to be allowed to run Grandpa’s trains around the tracks. But one rule prevailed: Never, never, never crash the trains! Of course the five young grandsons longed to do this very thing, but they abide by his rule and had a riotous time playing with Grandpa and his trains. When our little granddaughters heard their laughter, they soon joined in the fun. Of course, I stood by to record their antics with my ever-present camera.

Thirty-three years flew by like a runaway train – our children and grandchildren are grown and scattered in four states. Randy and I are well into our golden years and have made the decision to move south. No more icy roads, plowing driveways, frigid temperatures and frozen pipes: North Carolina is beckoning us. Once again Randy faces the monumental task of disassembling his meandering train tracks, packing them into boxes, and moving them to another state. I joke with him about his never-ending project of building his town. “When will you be finished?” His answer is always the same: “Never – it is a work in progress.”

Any house we buy must have a bonus room – an area to build Randy’s town. There are few basements in North Carolina, but we discovered the FROG – Family Room Over Garage – which is now a requirement for our next home. Randy has named his tiny town “Shiloh,” which means “peaceful place.” I hope he can attain that virtue and finally finish his “work in progress.”

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