‘Biggest fan’ admires model train exhibit
by Sam Matthews
Sep 05, 2013 | 7823 views | 0 0 comments | 608 608 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Joshua Rhodes, 9, watches a model train pass by at the Tracy Historical Museum on Monday, Sept. 2. He is a fan of the annual train exhibit put on by European Train Enthusiasts.  Sam Matthews/Tracy Press
Joshua Rhodes, 9, watches a model train pass by at the Tracy Historical Museum on Monday, Sept. 2. He is a fan of the annual train exhibit put on by European Train Enthusiasts. Sam Matthews/Tracy Press
Monday, I was driving past the Tracy Historical Museum and noticed the sign out front about the model-train display that had returned to the museum for the sixth year.

I decided to stop by and see what additions members of the European Train Enthusiasts had made to the miniature trains and to the scenery they pass through in making their rounds of the elevated tracks.

As I started checking out the trains, Dave Lee, past president of the West Side Pioneer Association and a faithful museum volunteer, nudged my elbow and told me to look over on one side where a young boy with a train engineer’s cap perched atop his head was looking closely at one of the train sets passing by.

“That’s Joshua,” Dave told me. “He’s here every weekend while the model trains are running. He’s our biggest fan.”

And sure enough, 9-year-old Joshua Rhodes had indeed returned to the museum to watch the XO (half-O size) trains.

Seated nearby was Joshua’s dad, Bryan Rhodes, who has brought his son to the museum Monday, as he has for several years.

“We’ve been coming to see the trains for the past five years,” Bryan said. “Joshua just loves trains, so here we are again.”

I asked Joshua, a fourth-grader at Freiler School, how he became interested in trains, and he told me he first saw “Thomas the Tank Engine” of British books and films, and is still a fan. His engineer’s cap bears the Thomas name.

I also asked Joshua what he liked about model trains.

“They look so real,” he replied. “And I like to watch them pass by.”

Just then, Joshua ran over to one side of the display and told the train enthusiasts that there was going to be a head-on collision. The trains were stopped, so the trains barely bumped into each other.

Joshua’s dad said the family has a set of plastic battery-operated model trains and plastic tracks at home, but so far no electricity-driven trains traveling on steel tracks.

“But I suspect one of these days, we’ll have a train set.” Bryan said.

The dad added that Joshua’s great-grandfather had been a locomotive engineer for the Union Pacific, so there is a railroad bloodline in the family.

Asked what he wanted to do when he grows up, Joshua didn’t surprise me by replying, “I want to be a train driver.”

And no doubt he will.

Hot dogs galore

Boy, were members of the Tracy Breakfast Lions Club a busy group Friday night.

They were manning the snack shack at the new — and quite impressive — Wayne Schneider Stadium at Tracy High, and customers were crowded 10 deep and more in front of the stand all night — not just before the game and at halftime, but from start to finish.

“We had to go out to Costco twice to buy more wieners for hot dogs,” Bill Kaska told me.

Don Bisbee, a veteran at the snack stand, said he never had seen the stand so busy.

“It was like the old days when Wayne was coaching,” Jim Meservy said as he tended the outdoor grill.

The snack stand customers may not be quite as thick as Friday night in future games, but who can tell. All of the stand’s proceeds go to the school to help defray expenses for the athletic program.

Amazon on track

City Manager Leon Churchill, speaking before the Tracy Rotary Club Tuesday, brought members up to date on the many projects with which the city is now involved.

Mentioning the Amazon fulfillment center now under construction off Grant Line Road, he reported the projected opening day of the huge facility is Oct. 2. Construction continues 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Leon noted that Amazon recently submitted plans to the city to include a section of the facility for Amazon Fresh food products, a new element of the company’s offerings to be launched with the opening of the Tracy center.

•Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at shm@tracypress.com.

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