I'll try to respond to your post and a couple of others here, Tom. I have met Joe a couple of times, am happy that several of his A-Line items are available for use and found him to be a helpful and interesting fellow but one who is focused on a period of railroading in which I have no personal interest. I'm sure many of us know other hobbyists whom we feel the same way about though we respect their imput and contributions to the hobby.
I have attended the Napierville RPM Meet only once and that was now close to twenty years ago. The comments so far are all from folks who seem to feel it has declined considerably since Martin's death. Perhaps it has but other than great camaraderie the thing I most remember about Napierville was a clinic by a well known presenter who had not had the forethought to check the slides for his presentation ahead of time. The result was that many of them first hit the screen either upside down or sideways. The subject was a railroad
topic I know fairly well but am always interested in learning more about. Unfortunately the presenter, whom I
really appreciate for his enthusiasm for the topic, did not know the topic that well. Thus, after offering three
corrections to his comments within the first fifteen minutes of his clinic I slipped out the back as quietly as
possible rather then sound off like a "Johnny Know-it-all" or having to sit there bored to tears. Tony K. and I
were speaking of the experience within the next five minutes and, he being far more experienced with RPM
clinics than I, advised me that such things occasionally happened there!
It is good to read that some are now approaching the organizers of such meets and offering to present
clinics. That said, however, having run two regional NMRA meets and three Special Interest Group type meets
over the years I still personally feel it is up to those trying to organize such meets to make the effort to find and recruit the best clinic presenters that they can. Nor do I feel it is that difficult based on my own experience.
Most people I have asked to present a clinic were pleased to be recognized in such a way and I cannot ever remember having been turned down. When Dave Owens first began the Collinsville, CT RPM meet some
thirteen years ago he asked if I would be interested in doing something on milk cars and trains and I was happy to do so. It was through doing so that my wife and I first met Ben & Mary Brown as Ben, whom I am sorry to report passed away suddenly on 26 July, was also presenting a clinic on milk trains. It is a subject that fascinates many of us interested in railroading in the northeast and Ben and I shared many good experiences with it over the years, including presenting clinics at the first three meets that Dave Owens organized. Bouncing back and forth between Vermont & Virginia since 2008, and with a work schedule that often prevented attendance, it is only in the last three years that I have again become a regular attendee, and clinic presenter, at the Collinsville, CT meet. Though I have not been fortunate enough to attend any of Greg Martin's Shake & Take Clinics they have appealed to me as one of the best developments to emerge from the various RPM meets. Thus I approached Dave with great trepidation before the 2014 meet to see if he thought such a clinic would be worthwhile at Collinsville. This has been my "build it and they will come" approach, which is why I was so disgusted when the first Mid-Atlantic RPM meet was scheduled in a place with very limited access and a capacity of only 35 attendees. If one is going to organize such programs my feeling is that they need to have enough faith in their efforts to use a facility large enough so that no one has to be turned away. I guess I had that faith with the thought of a "Shake & Take" clinic for Collinsville and was gratified this
past May to see a model of a New Haven RPO begun at the clinic last year completed and on display this year. Next year I will attempt such a clinic for a freight car and perhaps another passenger car as well.
Since we now seem to be entering a period in which some are interested in RPM meets focused as they have been on the transition era for the last twenty or so years, while others want to "move ahead" into more
modern times, I would ask why we cannot have both??? Let's keep the current RPM clinics and keep them
as they are. Those who are interested in more modern, or even contemporary, railroading can organize their
own RPM meets and focus on whatever they wish just as some of us have done with things of special interest
to some of us such as our Milk Train Meets were conducted. I have an old friend first met in 1970 who calls
often and begins to update me on all the recent happenings in New England railroading. After listening
politely for twenty minutes or more I usually interrupt him to ask why he is telling me all this. He responds by exhorting that I have always been a New England oriented railfan and should be interested in all this afterwhich
I remind him that the only good railroading left is in one's railroad room or in their head! That, in a nutshell, is how I honestly view the current scene. Thus I hope we can keep the current RPM meets as they are other
than trying to reinvigorate those in need of it. Hopefully more of us can find more time and funds to attend
them and enjoy them while we can.
Just my thoughts on a cloudy, wet morning, Don Valentine