Love of model trains drives countian out of retirement


November 28, 1994|By JEAN LESLIE

Many hard-working adults see the up side of getting older: When we retire, we'll have the time to pursue our interests and passions.

Ellicott City resident Lou Koehler has pursued his interest in model trains to the point that he has actually returned to the working world.

Earlier in his life, 75-year-old Lou designed mechanical and electrical installations for commercial buildings in Maryland and Virginia, retiring as a senior partner in an engineering firm.

He'd been interested in model trains as a child, but had set them aside to devote himself to his career and family.

Then, after the children moved away, Lou's interest in trains rebounded, and he began to acquire an extensive collection that included all the gauges or sizes of toy trains.

Eventually, Lou decided to build a layout, but he couldn't decide which gauge to use. What he created was a 31-by-11-foot scene in which all the gauges are used together, a multilevel version of the Patapsco Valley Railroad.

The layout, which is in the basement of his home off Route 99, includes local sites such as the Thomas Viaduct.

Lou's ingenuity and skill as a machinist were noticed by Bruce and Linda Greenberg, our local experts in model train-ing. Bruce, a national authority on Lionel trains, has written more than 15 books on the subject. Linda is president of Greenberg Shows, based in Sykesville, which produces Greenberg's Great Train, Dollhouse and Toy Shows.

Lou fits perfectly into their business: he likes to tinker, so he is responsible for repairing the antique engines, switches and rolling stock. And he can create a replacement part if no reproduction is available.

At the shows, Lou is the model railroad repairman, keeping the trains running on schedule. He'll be tending the trains this weekend at Greenberg's Great Train, Dollhouse and Toy Show located in the Exhibition Hall at Timonium Fairgrounds.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., both days. Admission is $5 for adults, and $2 for children, ages 6 to 12.

The first Greenberg Show was held in Ellicott City's Armory in 1976. Now, the shows stretch from Massachusetts to Florida, 35 of them each year.


I know that Thanksgiving's over, but it's my favorite holiday, so let's talk about it again.

Children at Rockburn Elementary School celebrated Thanksgiving last Wednesday at school. The kindergartners held "Feast of Favorites," featuring their favorite foods.

The hands-down favorite was macaroni and cheese. First-graders ate a traditional Thanksgiving Feast, and second-graders created and ate a Friendship Salad.

Third-graders enjoyed Howard County Library's program "Melting Pot," given by librarians Diane Mahoney and Helen Beyers of the Children's Services Department.

Rockburn School is proud of its students selected to be in Howard County Children's Chorus for the 1994-1995 year: Nathaniel Wolfra, Alex Wolniak, Jennifer Cykman and James Hall.


Burleigh Manor Middle School had a turkey trot in which the students had to use their math skills and teamwork to win a prize.

A team of six children from each grade predicted their running time for the course. The winning team for each grade was the team which comes closest to their prediction. Each of the 24 winners got a turkey, donated by the Merchant's Group of the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center.

Their turkey trot also aids the hungry. The race's entry fee was a nonperishable foot item to help FISH of Howard County.


Kathy Pryor, of the Elkridge Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, thanks crafters, shoppers, and bake table helpers for all the work they did to make the Nov. 12 craft show a success.


The Centennial Community will light its Christmas Eve luminarias for the 11th time this year.

Coordinator Lynn Spencer reminds her neighbors that the order forms for the votive candles and white bags need to be returned by Friday. Please return your orders.

The project looks easy, but in reality requires some coordination. On Dec. 10, two-thirds of a ton of sand, required to hold the candles in place, will be dumped in Lynn's driveway. Volunteers will help scoop it into sacks for distribution, they hope before it rains. On Christmas Eve, candles, sacks, and sand in place, the Centennial community comes outside, lights candles, and neighbors talk and walk, admiring their work.


Faith Bible Church in Elkridge invites everyone, but especially children, to tonight's presentation by the Good News Puppet Company, "A Church Mouse Christmas."

Faith Bible Church is at 5810 Timberview Drive.

Information: the Rev. Alex Poindexter at 796-2727.


This is the first weekend of official holiday activities in the county. It's a great weekend to shop.

The business people of the Historic District of Ellicott City invite you to Midnight Madness on Main Street, 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, when carolers and mulled cider seem to warm the town a bit.


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