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Longview model train show draws enthusiasts of all ages

By Charlotte Stewart
March 3, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Beautiful weather didn't seem to slow traffic Saturday to the Junction & East Texas Texas Train Society's Model Train Show. Neither did the retirement of the society's longtime president, Homer Fleischer.

"Usually, when it's pretty weather like it is, people stay home and work in the yard," said Bill Pyler, who took up the mantle when Fleischer put it down. "But, as you can see, the place is full, and we've had people coming in and out all morning - and they're buying, not just looking."

The event at the Longview Exhibit Building was "a lot busier than I've seen it for a while - years, maybe," a fact he credited to an upswing in the economy.

"I've heard gas is going to get to $5 a gallon soon, so maybe folks are out before that happens ... Right now, they're here and spending."

Steve and Darlene Graham of Texarkana were pickin' and a grinnin' as they admired the various displays at the model train show.

"I'm amazed at the technology - the detail technology has allowed us to bring to model trains," he said.

Pointing to the Red River Valley "n" Gineers display, he noted the miniature Mobil gas advertisement on top of what appeared to be a model warehouse. The little neon sign was flashing, just like it might have decades ago.

"This is before '65," he noted, explaining that the flying Pegasus faced left until that year.

The couple come to the Longview show "every year that we can," she said.

Teresa Chisholm of White Oak came to the show because she knew her 6-year-old twin nephews Kyle and Kody would enjoy it.

"The problem is, they want to buy just everything," she said, reminding each that she would buy one item. "We've been here nearly an hour, and they've both changed their minds about a hundred times."

Debbie Rees and her husband came from Mansfield, La., to shop at the show.

"I can't fuss at him about what he spends at these," she said as she loaded up the car with booty from the morning pickings. "I collect pigs, and he doesn't fuss at me."

Fleischer's model train shop on Methvin at Tyler was once home to the society, which is now based in Pyler's home.

Fleischer said he doesn't miss the hustle and bustle of owning a shop, but does miss the customers and friends he saw regularly. He keeps in touch with many of them on the model train show circuit. He also makes a little money, he said.

"(I'm) doing pretty good today," he said from behind his table.

"I'll be at the shows, this one anyway, as long as they let me - as long as I can," he said.



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