49th ANNUAL TCA CONVENTION REPORT
by Gordon L. Wilson, TCA 76-10233
Phoenix to the Los Angeles basin is perhaps the
most boring drive in the U. S A. It is essentially one desert
(the Western Sonoran) to another (the Southeastern Mojave) the
trick is how to make it interesting. Leaving Phoenix at 8:00 AM
for the 380 miles trip to Ontario, California leaves only a few
options along the way. Quartzsite is near the (California border
and has primarily just one restaurant worth mentioning. The Bull
Pen is a favorite Truck Stop, but an excellent restaurant is attached.
Whether ordering from the menu or feasting at the buffet table,
food is plentiful, tasty and inexpensive.
A bit further west on I-10 brings one to the Colorado River.
Here there are two choices. Cross it and enter California or go
north to Parker, Arizona and check out what’s new at the
Arizona and California Railway. This time, we chose the California
option. The drive through the Mojave Desert, to he kind, is less
than scenic. An interesting side trip is to take a self guided
tour through Joshua National Park. The Joshua trees and the rock
are quite intriguing and have recently caught the eye of Toyota,
which uses it as the marketing strategy for their newest SUV.
Exiting on the west end of the park again provides choices. If
you go west, you’ll soon be in the Los Angeles basin. Going
South takes you to the Palm Springs area, which is what we chose
The J.W. Marriott Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert is the
model after which our 2009 TCA Convention site, the J.W. Marriott
Desert Ridge Resort was patterned. A unique feature of the Palm
Desert facility is the large lagoon, which enters the main lobby.
This affords guests the opportunity to ride to their selected
restaurants in a canopy-covered boat. Virtually every luxury amenity
known to mankind is offered at this resort. The Desert Ridge promises
to be even better!
Moving west, the Ontario Convention site is only about an hour
away. A Sunday afternoon tour of the nearby Orange Empire Railroad
Museum filled out this day. The Orange Empire began as a trolley
museum and has expanded into quite a large and extensive collection
of railroad locomotives and rolling stock, including much of the
late Ward Kimball’s narrow gauge trains.
Monday saw us on yet another railroad excursion, this time using
Amtrak’s “Surfliner” and a Metrolink commuter
train. Los Angeles’s Union Station was the midway point
for this rail trip to San Juan Capistrano.
Los Angeles’s Union Station
This is the old California mission so well known for the March
migration of swallows each year. Alas, I only saw one solitary
swallow. Lunch at Ruby’s turned out to he an adventure whose
pain was eased by the presence of an overhead G-gauge railroad
and a 10 foot model of a Santa Fe-3 in full war bonnet regalia
It stayed in perpetual clockwise motion, thanks to the display
turntable on which it was mounted. Out return trip proved to be
more indicative of the real Amtrak than our ride down to San Juan
Capistrano - it was only 1 1/2 hours late.
Tuesday saw the continued domination by Desert Division golfers
of the TCA Convention Golf Tournament. Paul Wassermann won the
low scratch golf score and,after the Callaway handicap system
was used, tied Gordon Wilson for the low adjusted handicap score.
Due to recent shoulder surgery, Gordon was forced to play using
just one arm. Lynne Martin was actually a three time winner: 1)
most improved, 2) low scratch (no handicap) score among female
contestants; and 3) longest putt. Danny Martin distinguished himself
with his retro hairdo, while Chris Allen invented a new golf shot.
Almost everyone has heard of par, bogey and birdie; Chris has
come up with the “Amtraker,” the “art”
of striking a passing iron horse. Chris further distinguished
himself by actually finishing the event with more golf balls than
he had at the start of the tourney.
Chris Allen - Golfer Extraordinare
Golf Tourney Participants
There were two absolute “givens’ during this tourney.
Desert Division members continue to dominate, and everyone had
a wonderful time on this beautiful Arnold Palmer designed course
in Rancho Cucamonga.
Wednesday dawned and for the first day we had Southern California
weather. The BOD convened for the first time and attended to the
many issues before it. That evening saw nearly 400 Convention
attendees boarding the Entertainer, a large excursion boat, for
a sunset cruise and dinner in the Newport Harbor.
|LtoR: Irene & Katie Wassermann, Jean
& Bill Mack
As Thursday came around, many people had discovered the nearby
Homestyle Cafe. If you are familiar with the pancakes at the 4B’s
in Black Canyon City, these were larger. The omelets were also
huge. The financial ticket? Think 1960’s prices!
At the BOD meeting on Thursday, the main order of business was
to listen to the updates for all future conventions through 2009
and to thoroughly review all of the proposals for Convention Cars
and Golden Anniversary items for 2004.
That done, Peter Atonna presented the Membership Committee report
and then all attention turned to nominations for next years National
Slate of Officers. For President-Elect we will have Brad Fuller
of NETCA and Merle Parise of Pacific Northwest; for Vice-President
there will he Joseph Mania of METCA, George Wederich of Midwest,
and Bob Keller of Dixie. Sarah Lavinus and Bill Miles are unopposed
for another term as Secretary and Treasurer, respectively. For
the first time in three years there is a competition for the three-year
Investment Committee position. Bill McClanahan of Lone Star and
Cordon Knight of Great Lakes are both seeking the position.
That evening saw nearly every attendee at the Welcome Party. An
array of wonderful food and beverage, combined with an eclectic
assortment of train items in the ‘Silent Auction”
made this a very worthwhile and well-planned event. It was at
this Welcome Party that we first began to realize just how many
members of the Desert Division were in attendance at this, the
49th Annual TCA Convention.
Friday morning’s early sunlight only heightened the anticipation
of the opening of the Trading Pits and the Display Room. Both
areas were huge - actually cavernous might be a better word. This
did two things one positive and one negative. It made areas appear
to be less occupied than they actually were. On the other side,
the large amount of space between aisles of sales tables and display
booths made browsing and walking around quite easy and comfortable
For many, Friday night is Layout Tour time. Not for me, however.
Nearly every year, near our Convention location is a professional
baseball game - sometimes major league but preferably a minor
league game. Nearby Rancho Cucamonga boasts an Angels farm team,
the Quakes. Earlier this year in Philadelphia I witnessed a no-bit
game. On June 27, I nearly saw my second no hit game of the year.
The Quakes pitcher gave up one bloop hit with two out in the 7th
inning. It was the only hit he surrendered to the Oakland A’s
farm club from Modesto.
On Saturday it was back to the trading pits for the last day
bargains, plus much time to be used exploring the fabulous public
display area. Lionel was the most visible company with a large
display featuring their TMMC. MTH was there also, but at a much
smaller display. Operating layouts and static displays were outstanding,
especially an unbelievable Lego’s layout. The TCA Kids Club
operated continuously, providing all the future TCAer’s
with a variety of toy train activities.
Around noon on Saturday the auction room hosted a wide variety
of merchandise. Mid-afternoon was the time for TCA’s annual
Membership Meeting. Most people then retired to their rooms to
make ready for the Saturday night Banquet amid Auction. Aside
from an incredibly lucrative auction (one Ward Kimball painting
$11,000), the festivities were highlighted by a performance of
the late Ward Kimball’s band, "The Firehouse Five plus
Viewing the Banquet's Auction
Paul Wassermann receiving the
gavel from Newt Derby
The Banquet crowd gets a surprise
The Firehouse Five plus Two.
Early on Sunday morning we were on our way north to visit with
friends in Lake Tahoe and Northern Nevada. As usual we had yet
another great time at this year’s TCA Convention. On to
Pittsburgh next June!