TCA & Friends
By Gordon Wilson
As most of you know, I am a past TCA National President. During
my term we raised the dues; renovated and added onto our National
Toy Train Museum and property; donated money to and fulfilled
a long overdue promise to Paradise Township; expanded our Internet
capabilities; gave Charter Kids Club members a commemorative box
car; developed an Employee Handbook; gave every member a Pocket
Edition Post War Reproduction Guide; and in general; spent a lot
of money, much of which came from your dues and contributions.
So why is this important now, some four years later?
Bill Miles is our National Treasurer, but Bill rarely ever gets
his due consideration. His wife, Patricia, is always there with
him, as two peas in a pod. As the President, I had many ideas
of how, where, when, and why monies should be spent on various
projects. In my mind's eye, they were all to benefit the membership.
Bill would ask, in his own quiet manner, do we really need this
and how many members will it benefit? In other words, Bill asked
the HARD QUESTIONS and demanded a reasonable, rational answer.
He was and is the keeper of the books and the overseer and guardian
of the member’s dues money, in addition to our entire treasury
and financial worth.
We have members who see the TCA's "bottom line" and
salivate, asking “Why don't we do this or that?” Unlike
other major tinplate clubs, we have and maintain an operating
museum, library, business office and PAID employees. We also retain
a legal firm in Harrisburg and donate annually to the local fire,
police, and first aid companies. In short, we need someone to
oversee on a daily basis, our financial integrity. That person
is Bill Miles, who has done so for nearly two decades. He is a
volunteer, by the way!
As are all of the officers and BOD members of the TCA. During
my term as President, Bill and I didn't always see "eye to
eye" on how and why monies should be spent. For any of you
who may have a disagreement with your significant other over how
much you spend on a toy train, you probably know that sometimes
these differences can cause the air to become a bit tense. Nonetheless,
Bill and I always parted as friends. For me, trains do not impact
friendships. You can replace a toy train! (and a budget item)
Tonight, 11-11-03 I was putting some stain on a 6" square
piece of wood because of Bill and Pat Miles. That piece of wood
is going to be the base for a very special piece of memorabilia.
As most of you also know, I am not just a lover of toy trains,
but I live, die, breathe, and bleed for the Philadelphia Phillies
Major League Baseball Team. To me, they are just a big a passion
as Lionel, Marx, MTH or K-Line.
Around the last week of September I received an email from Bill
and Pat asking if I would be attending the Phillies last game
at Veterans Stadium. Alas, I could not. I had been to the last
game at the Polo Grounds in New York (the Phillies played in that
game) and at Connie Mack Stadium in Philly. I thought no more
of the email.
On York Thursday, in the lobby of our Museum, Bill approached
me with a nicely wrapped package and handed it to me. At about
the same time I had to leave for a meeting with the TCA Internet
Upon returning, I finally opened that package. A toy train? Some
memento from my long ago days in the Atlantic Division? Some cute
thing as a joke to remind me of some of the stupid things I may
have said or done as TCA President?
None of these. It was a gift the Phillies gave to every fan in
attendance at the last game in Veteran's Stadium. It was a ceramic
likeness of Veteran's Stadium. While at that game, Bill and Pat
Miles thought about ME.
If it were not for TCA, in all likelihood I would not know Bill
and Pat Miles. What makes this so VERY special to me, and Bill
and Pat could not have known this - I don't think, unless they
talked to my wife Christie - is that on a display case in the
Foyer at the entrance to my home in Arizona, I have a ceramic
model of Connie Mack Stadium on a 6" square wooden base.
Next to it is an autographed ball from Phillies Hall of Famer
On the same table was (note the past tense) a ceramic model of
the Polo Grounds, where I once physically walked into Robin Roberts
when I was 12 years old.
The Polo Grounds model is now gone, and Veteran's Stadium is
in its place, with an autographed ball by another Phillies Hall
of Fame pitcher, Steve Carlton.
Yes, the TCA is about collecting and operating toy trains. That
is what we all have in common, regardless of race, religion, creed,
sex, occupation, or financial worth.
I sincerely hope that everyone reading this can point to another
person or two or three or more, and say that they too have many
friends within the TCA who are friends only because of the TCA.
I am happy to say that I have many valued friendships which resulted
from being a member of this fine organization.
Bill sometimes gets a lot of grief because of his position as
Treasurer of our organization. Rarely, I'm sure, does anyone ever
walk up to Bill and say "Thanks for doing such a great job
with our (my) money."
This gift from Bill and Pat was totally unrelated to a toy train,
but was something that I feel came to me from them through their
heart and a friendship that I shall always value greatly. We may
live some 2800 miles apart, but every time I pass through the
foyer as I enter my home, Bill and Pat sit right there where I
can see them. To me, and I hope you, this is what TCA is all about.
Saying "Thank you" seems so inadequate, but for now,
Bill and Pat Miles, it is the best I can do.