Celebrating a love of the rails

Resident Paul Frey poses with the Riderwood Railroaders display in the Garden View residential building. The Riderwood Railroaders meet weekly on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. till noon. (Photo by Bob Phillips)

By Almeda Girod
Resident Writer

The Riderwood Railroaders club was organized in 2001 in a storeroom in MST. It moved to a larger space in 2012 on the terrace level of Garden View. The members grew up in an era when passenger and freight trains were vital to the economy (especially during WWII) and recall a fascination observing trains.

Marv Zelkowitz (who returns for Club meetings after moving from Riderwood to Howard County) had a Lionel train set when a youth in Brooklyn, NY. His interest was revived when at age 27 he secured a HO scale set. Marv has rewired electronics and built the Riderwood third peninsula as part of the group’s display.

Paul Frey, who grew up in St. Louis, was given his first Lionel train set at age one (and has a photo in diapers to prove this). He bought a N scale (tiny) set for his toddler son who did not like trains, and so Paul “took it over and has been a modeler ever since.”

George Schaefer was a 13-year old teen in Baltimore when the “bug bit me,” and his parents gave him a Lionel O 27 scale. Other interests filled his time in high school, but as an adult, his interest was rekindled, and he filled his basement with a
12 x 24 layout with his wife commenting “there is no space for me to walk.”

Harry Eberhardt remembers being fascinated as his father took him to watch trains near their DC home. He received a Marx train set at age five, and two years later updated to an American Flyer.

The men recall a “pink Lionel train set” in the 50’s designed to attract females. However, it has continued to be a male-dominated hobby. A number of Riderwood men have railroad sets in their apartments, but the Riderwood Railroader’s spouses (“yes, the wives are members too”) have encouraged involvement in the Club. avoiding “cluttering up the apartment.”  The men agree that the Club was a “factor in their choice of moving to Riderwood.”

The Club members arrange lovely Christmas displays for the enjoyment of Riderwood residents. The train sets have filled the current space, and George is threatening to find “the right drill” and spread to the adjoining storage area.

Meeting times are 9:00 a.m. – noon on Tuesdays. Paul Frey (301-273-9110) or Harry Eberhardt (301-960-9747) may be contacted for more information.

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