What a thrill it was for me to host Walter Gretzky to my model railroad about a year ago now.
Along with Walter came, from left to right, Jacques (former NHL trainer), Walter, me and Charlie Henry, former NHL scout and chief executive. To view the images in larger format simply click on the picture. To return to the default setting, click outside the image.
We're in the train room. How did this visit come about, you may be wondering? Well, over fifteen years ago, Charlie's grandson was in my class as a grade 4 student. He visited my model railroad when the class came by on a Saturday morning in June. The young boy showed some pictures of the layout to his grandpa (Charlie) and Charlie simply had to visit the next time he would be in town. Well the next time came about ten years ago, but on that Saturday I was out of town giving a clinic at an SLD/NMRA meet down in Smith's Falls. Walter would have accompanied Charlie at that time.
Well it took a number of years, but the rain date materialized this afternoon. My wife, Lisa didn't really want to get into a picture, but Walter insisted!
Walter turned 78 the day after his visit to my place. He suffered a stroke a while back, but, boy oh boy, is he still "sharp as a tack" keeping Lisa and me in stitches all afternoon long with stories from way back. He told us how his family came to Canada. He mentioned how proud he is of his five children, 14 grandchildren and one great grand-child. He certainly kept me on my toes asking a series of historical and geographical questions. Lots of fun!
Joanne Henry, Charlie's daughter and the mom of that young lad who visited my trains when he was in my class was thrilled to make it over. A great thrill for me was having Michael Allan Henry (that young grade 4 student of mine who is now 25 years old) telephone from his home in British Columbia during the visit. Joanne still insisted on calling me "Mr. Hamer" and not Mike.
The gang got to see the Maine Central ply B&M rails.
They railfanned a 40-car outbound B&M manifest train.
They were keenly interested in the scenery making. It was Walter's birthday the following day. I explained to him that when you step into my model railroad room you go back in time to the day I was born, May 27, 1958. Yessirree, I model New England as it would have appeared on that day in history. I tell the school kids who visit my model railroad that I'm always happy to enter the room as it's always my birthday!
Before I got to say to Walter and Charlie what an honour it was to meet them, they beat me to the punch, both saying, "Mike, what a thrill and an honour for us both to have finally enjoyed the opportunity of meeting you and seeing this marvel of a railroad you have." Indeed...salt of the earth people! Thank you for allowing me to digress away from the garden aspect of things...well, not entirely...for you see, almost all of the trees on my HO scale railroad were made from the flowers of shrubs in my garden...spirea, hydrangea and sedum! All the best,
Mike Hamer, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada