Sunday, September 13, 2015

The First Trip to Chicago, Part Two

The next day, during a lull in the action and without a lot of fanfare, Marney strolled in with a couple boxes of Test Colors. Every hobbyist in the room, including those who I had thought incapable of moving without motorized transport, immediately leapt up and ran towards those boxes with arms outstretched.

I think the Traditionals were 40 dollars and the smaller scales and Foals were 20: I grabbed an Action Stock Horse Foal in Splash Spot Black Leopard Appaloosa, not just because he was more affordable than a standard Traditional, I had seen nothing else like him, ever. I had to have him!

We were allowed one Test Color, regardless of size and No Exceptions, so when the feeding frenzy was over, stray Tests remained, including some all-black Little Bits Unicorns and Shams in various states of Bay. Every time I see one of those Shams on eBay – I’ve seen several over the years, going for sometimes silly prices – I just laugh. Those were the leftovers.

I can’t recall if it was that day, or the next that Marney told us we could visit her house, and peruse the models she had stored in her garage, too.

Michelle and I hitched a ride with Cheryl Greene: we soon found ourselves sliding around on the bench seat of Cheryl’s pickup, as she dodged in and out of rush hour traffic like Steve McQueen. In addition to the lack of seatbelts, the suspension on her truck was shot, so we were bouncing, jiggling, and giggling (both in anticipation, and fear) the entire way to Marney’s house.

We were the first vehicle to pull into her driveway, which probably shouldn’t have surprised me.

The door opened, and Marney’s Miniature Schnauzer DeeDee ran out to inspect us, followed by who I assumed was Marney’s mom. DeeDee paid particular attention to me, giving me a stern look and short bark: we had just gotten our Miniature Schnauzer Spike earlier than year, so I assumed this extra greeting was to acknowledge that I smelled like a Schnauzer.

Whether that was acceptable or not to her, I was not sure.

Other cars quickly pulled in, including Marney’s. The door to the garage opened slowly, revealing – oh, just the dream of every model horse collector everywhere. It was an entire garage full of horses: bins, boxes, barrels and sheer piles of them. There were pieces of models, finished models, culls, things that she had touched up or altered in some way.

And at least one full drum of Stablemates, that I promptly plunged my arms in as far as I could reach, scratches be damned. Because why wouldn’t I?

After we had made our purchases, and found ourselves shooting the breeze outside (“You know what Breyer needs to make? A Missouri Fox Trotter!”) Marney offered us a very brief sneak peek into her collection.

All I remember clearly were two things: a transparent Belgian, sitting on one of her higher shelves, and a box about half the size of a refrigerator filled to the very top with models, some of which (all of which?) may have been Test Colors. I remember a resist-dappled Chestnut Foundation Stallion, sitting on top of the pile.

I often wonder where he ended up.

Sunday morning came, and it was time to leave. I made my goodbyes, paid my hotel bill, called the cab, and waited outside for it arrive.

And waited. And waited. I began to worry that I wouldn’t make it to the train station on time. In fact, for the first time during the whole trip I actually began to panic.

In frustration, I threw my wallet down, and it burst open. The money fanned out, and I momentarily stared at it in awe: I had sold enough extra models – and somehow managed my money well enough – that I was coming home with more money than I had started.

I did get to the station on time, but the stress was not over: before I could get the last box on the train, the doors closed and the train began pulling out of the station. The conductor made it a point to visit me after that last box was loaded and the train restarted, to see the girl who had momentarily stopped his train.

I was wearing my Wayne State University T-shirt that day; an older couple of fellow commuters noticed it, and struck up a conversation with me. Either one of them or a family member were alumni, and they were so pleased to see someone with a shirt from the school they recognized, so far from home.

When we got to Chicago, they helped me carry my bags and boxes to the Amtrak station, saving me the stress of another cab drive. I wish I could remember their names; I will always remember their kindness.

The rest of the trip was trouble-free. I may have slept most of the way home. I deserved it: I made it all the way to Chicago and back, and I even made a little money for my effort!

Anyway, that’s not all of it, but that’s most of it. Some details are undoubtedly misremembered, and the days blended together so some of the timing is also off. I ended up going to Model Horse Congress two subsequent years, and some of the memories of those may have drifted into this one. (Was it that year, or another, than a famous hobbyist got into an argument with a parrot in the Holidome?)

But now I hope, in this rambling and imperfect account, you can catch a glimpse somewhere in it of why the hobby was and is so important to me. Thirty years ago, and now.



It’s just another way to say I love you.


Lysette said...

Loved these posts so very much! Thank you so much for sharing these memories. It makes me wish I had written down details of BF each year (though my father sitting our family down to dinner with Sam Savitt and his wife is something I never have to worry about forgetting).

Lysette said...

Oh, and I must add that I'm currently doing an interpretive dance to express how badly I wish I could get my hands on those black unicorns and unfinished Shams (I have a partially painted Sham that I'm told was used as a practice by new painters and I just love that mold!)

Corky said...

This was so much fun to read! I'd love to read more of your experiences. And I too have an unfinished Sham somewhere in my collection.