in his backyard haven

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Oh Dennis & his Shenanigans

Not that anyone will believe this however here we go ...

I just realized that Dennis passed on the 13th of June.  Last Sat the 13th Of Oct I did the Heart Walk in the am at Fairmont Park Riverside.  I was beat afterward and not in the mood to be around people or noise;  I was restless however ...

I decided to head to Busy Bee Hobbies to get some paint and super glue.   I wandered around like I use to just browsing.   Oh my God now I see where Dennis got all that crap ... lol.

I decided to call Peggy for the hell of it.  She said come on over, I have left over frozen cookies for the Roundhouse Gang.  Well most members were running in San Diego that day.  Well I was in San Bernardino anyway & I had something I wanted to drop off with my friend Neil who lives near Dennis.

I also like to hang out at Redlands Airport Lobby on a Sat when in this sorta mood.  

Well the next thing I know I'm at Dennis' house and the next thing I know I am mentoring Peggy on what an A unit is, a B unit, how to tell Athearn from Life Like Proto, brass from plastic and I start putting stuff next to the boxes they go in and she starts boxing stuff up ...  Dennis had me help with cleaning up the mess! 

However it was surreal to be in the room where he passed on the 13th of Jun on the weekend of the San Diego run.  I don't know if anyone else realizes who was really putting the trains away ~ Dennis.   But it hit me this morning when I read Peggy's blog. 

Dennis you were a great friend full of Shenanigans and you’re still at it ... !!!

Hi John,  Well said my friend.
I miss him as well. I saw Peggy outside the other day and she gave me his test track. I feel honored to have it and will make sure it is displayed and used as he would have wished, although maybe you could come over one day and let me run a couple of ideas past you.  Peggy also made me the new owner of the El Capitan. Although it will remain at Dennis’ for a couple months, I told Peggy I would give her the same amount of money the big “D” paid for it initially.  Oh well.  Enough said. 

I can also say that many years back during Christmas one year, Dennis placed that wreath with lights in the circle above the garage front. When Christmas was over and he was preparing to take it down, I told him he should keep it there because it made the house look fantastic, somewhat like a Thomas Kinkade. Of course it remains to this day. The great thing was that several nights back Peggy decided to turn the lighted wreath on again  and when I went outside , it brought a tear to my eye. I sat outside with a glass of wine and just stared at the wreath, all lit up and beautiful.  Kinda like the good old days when he had it lit and I would go outside at night, run into him putting the trash out and we would talk in the dark for an hour about things. Miss my buddy.


Post Script from Peggy:

Mitch - truth be told - I have NO IDEA how that wreath lit up!  I can’t find the switch and I don’t know how to turn it off! 

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Today, Oct. 13, 2012, John Sanford came over to visit.  He walked into the RR Man Cave - which now resembles an RXR hobby warehouse and said: “Whoa, we’d better get to work!.”   God bless  John, we sorted and packaged rolling stock for nearly four hours!  While packaging up Den's belongings it surfaces a lot of memories.  Here is a gem that John shared about how he met Dennis:

John was set up at the Riverside Senior Center location at the Roundhouse Gang RXR Swap Meet.  John had an item on the table that he hadn’t planned to sell; but he put it out to see if anyone would respond to it.  It was crowded and lots of activity but no one took a second look at this particular model.  

Along came Dennis, whom John had never met.  Den nearly jumped out of his socks!  He was very excited and wanted to know “how did you do that?”.    On the table was displayed, in it’s original box, a Walther’s (brand) plastic Santa Fe Coach worth about $30.  BUT it was enhanced by an NKP Car Company Streamline Brass Car Side Kit !   The purpose of such a kit, and the action of “brass siding on a plastic car” is to modify-enhance a the plastic model to resemble a very rare high dollar brass car on a budget . (Some cars were too rare for model manufacturers to risk a high volume tooling &production costs & these are usually only produced by the high end Brass mfgs in low volumes would be available in the $400 range)   I asked John if it was like putting lipstick on a pig and he said rather like really expensive lipstick!  

Dennis was the only guy (in a crowd of over 100) who recognized the modification for what it was.  He was drooling with desire especially because itnow represented a Rio Grande car prototype .  As a very talented modeler Den knew the value of the process.  This $30 plastic car, now modified with a $60 brass side kit & a lot of hours became as nice as the brass version valued at about $400!   This is what real modelers do when constructing prototypes . John said DENNIS WAS THE ONLY GUY WHO KNEW WHAT IT WAS!  They struck a friendship; made a deal - I’m sure there was a lot of haggling and negotiating, and John has been an invaluable friend for about four years!

Well - THERE IT WAS - the modified Santa Fe Coach was in Den's collection that John was helping me inventory and package.  I didn’t ask what the deal was but John said Dennis had pondered the plan for the entire swap meet duration and then managed to “acquire” the piece from John.