Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

It’s Real To Me, Dammit

When I was young, I went to the library all the time. It was a marvelous neoclasical pile of stones. In the basement, they had a children’s library and a big empty room for whatever what-have-you the library might host. It was there that they judged the model contests.

No, not creepy toddlers wearing bridesmaid dresses and enough makeup for a Tijuana hooker; I’m referring to the scale models of cars and boats and planes that you purchased as a kit and assembled. It was the most common hobby of grade-school boys in America at the time, if the town I grew up in was any sort of barometer.

We had a shop in town that sold nothing but models and glue and paint, run by a very sketchy looking fellow that collected Nazi memorabilia for a hobby. I was too young at the time to be suspicious of such things, but with the halting wisdom of age, I imagine he was selling dope along with the dope, too.

I won that damn contest lots of times. I had the right combination of intelligence and moronic monomania that such things require. I learned to dip toothpicks in paint and paint the numbers on the car’s speedometers by just touching the tiny raised bumps molded into the plastic. I made WWI airplanes and used my mother’s thread to wire them with interstrut rigging, and did the same for the clipper ship Thermopylae. I’m fairly certain you’d be drugged into oblivion if you displayed this sort of behavior now.

Hot damn, we were all pikers compared to this guy.

Michael Paul Smith

0 Responses

  1. Whoa – I had to back up and do a doubletake; I thought the beginning was just pictures of the scenes that inspired the models, not the models themselves.

    Holy smokes, that's amazing.

  2. High points of my model-making childhood were the Robert E. Lee sidewheeler: super-complex rigging, made with button thread; and the Visible V8, which really turned over (pistons, camshafts, valves) and taught me auto mechanics.

    Lest we give this modelmaker too much credit: the cars are diecasts that he bought. He's responsible for the settings and buildings, and of course the photos. Impressive nonetheless–

  3. I did the Tamiya Military Miniatures in 1/35 scale.

    I had all of them, and several dioramas, stored in my closet while away to boot camp.

    There was a fire.

    Models. Clothes. Photos. Yearbooks.

    I guess I needed a blank slate.

  4. Al Johnson said…

    High points of my model-making childhood were the Robert E. Lee sidewheeler: super-complex rigging, made with button thread;

    You did better than I. An aunt gave me that for a Christmas gift one year, but I never finished it.

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