HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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passenger cars are representative of the 1940s and 1960s with a few contemporary options, including some scratch-built models of flat cars, bulkhead pulpwood cars and other freight cars. The layout is wired for lighting and to give it a natural feel, I’ve added the sounds of both steam locomotives and diesels, accompanied by hissing, whistles, bells ringing and the rumble of trains headed down the track of a lifetime hobby.

Model railroading is a wonderful journey through life. Since retiring, it has provided me an important ingredient in adjusting to these senior years. Specifically, it has given me the opportunity to utilize the talents I’ve accumulated over a lifetime. Creating a miniature world makes scale-model railroading such a great hobby. Model railroaders find a thrill in studying the world of miniature.


Even though a precision model of a locomotive is a work of art in its own right, building a model railroad that evokes a sense of time and place is the heart of this hobby. Many scale model railroaders recall their childhood, when a train set allowed them to travel through an imaginary world. As adults, they find they have the means and skills to bring that world to life.


My earliest recollection of railroads was when my dad returned home after World War II in 1946. My mother took me to a beautiful historic railroad terminal to meet him. I was awed by the huge brick structure with its high vaulted ceilings and rows of dark hardwood curved benches with high backs.


My inspiration for modeling were the huge steam locomotives and remembering the steps up to the platforms where the trains would come into the terminal. I remember my dad in his Army uniform on

THE FUN OF BUILDING A MODEL RAILROAD

that platform beside the train that brought him home. The engines and cars seemed so large and noisy. The following Christmas, there was a circle of track around the tree and a steam locomotive pulling a set of freights cars, including a box car, log car and a caboose. It became my favorite toy. To this day, that original train set brings back to me many great memories of my childhood.


Model railroading provides hobbyists an opportunity to be creative, so my layout changes with every new idea that comes to mind. My current layout reflects living in New York along the New York Central Railroad and the Erie Lackawanna Railroad in North eastern Pennsylvania among the coal industry. Next I lived in Central Connecticut near the New Haven Railroad line and I finally settled in Kentucky among the Norfolk and Southern, Louisville and Paducah, Southern and R.J. Corman railroads. My layout highlights towns and villages along this journey, depicting both the coal mining and processing region of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the horse industry of Central Kentucky.


In designing my layouts over the years, I became intrigued by the tunnels, mountains, streams and rivers that patterned the countryside. The freight and

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Dr. Tom Miller is the education manager for the Lexington Division #10 and the Mid Central Region of the National Model Railroad Association.

more articles by dr thomas W. Miller