Thursday, December 2, 2010

Miniature Memories

I didn't want to write about this until I had some accompanying photos, and Tuesday afternoon, I slipped down to the Mall at Steamtown to take another look at Miniature Memories.

It's a huge model train collection, owned by Don Clark, and put together with the help of volunteers.  The whole thing started in 1977 at Keyser Oak Center, then the Scranton Marketplace.  Mayor Jim McNulty helped Miniature Memories move into the old Oppenheim building, when it was empty in the early 80's.  McNulty was desperately trying to get people to visit the downtown, and his showmanship is dearly missed.

When Oppenheim's was redeveloped, Miniature Memories found a home in the Gertrude Hawk chocolate store in Dunmore, until that store closed earlier this year.  Next stop, back to downtown Scranton and the mall.

Pictures do not and cannot do it justice.  In addition to the constantly circling trains there are dozens of local landmarks, too many to list here.  I just can't imagine all the work and all the hours it took to make this happen.

When I visited, the adults seemed to be enjoying it as much, if not more, than the children.  I thought about that for a moment.  It has to be because trains bring back wonderful childhood memories and thoughts of the way Christmas used to be-- when your biggest worry as a kid was getting your homework done in time so you could watch Gilligan's Island.  We had vibrant downtowns.  Window shopping was fun.  We actually hung out and talked with our friends instead of Twittering and texting.

As you might have heard by now, Don Clark passed away last week.  Thankfully, there are other volunteers to carry on his work, and they are willing to share their gift.  It appears Miniature Memories is open during normal mall hours.  There's no charge to get in, but please think about slipping a dollar or two into the collection box.  The money goes to St. Joseph's Center and the Christmas Holiday Bureau.

Miniature Memories hasn't changed much over the years, and that's a good thing.  In an era when so much comes and goes so fast, it's nice to know there's something close that can remind us of happier times.