John Allen mentioned yet again in a current magazine - and a thought about legacy
The current issue of “O Gauge Railroading” (February/March 2020) has an article “Andy Romano’s Big Little Railroad”. It is a 3-Rail layout but not like most as it is loaded with weathering and detail. It is cityscape and industrial looking. Probably influenced by you know who and he includes this mention:
“Remember John Allen’s HO scale Gorre & Daphetid (Gory and Defeated)? Aside from its enormity and detail, among the features that tickled everyone’s fancy were the charming little figures that John made by hand. They were all over the railroad, working their little sombreros off. Aha! I thought one of the features of my big city environment would have to be people, and lots of them, doing all the different things that bring a sense of life to a model railroad. I cluster them in groups because the viewer’s imagination can then fill in the story as they see it.”
I suspect many of today’s readers won’t understand the “sombreros” reference.
To ramble a bit on legacy:
I recalled what Philip Farkas said about it. Who was that? He was principle horn player of the Chicago Symphony for many years. Paraphrasing some of his comments of what he thought he would leave to posterity: “Maybe it’s these great concerts, but the audience forgets in two or three weeks time, you’ll forget it in six months. And so I thought, well, maybe it’s the recordings. And when I used to work with the Boston Symphony and Koussevitzky, Koussevitzky would come out as we started recording and say, ‘we’re not making recordings, we’re making historical documents.’ Very impressive and I thought this was what I was leaving to posterity, these marvelous records. Well you know where those records are now? They’re in the Bargain Barn down at the bottom of a pile of records that are fifty cents apiece. Now they’re obsolete. So I wondered to myself ‘What AM I leaving to this world”. And then suddenly I remember ‘You’re not only a horn player, you’re a teacher’. And this is what I’m leaving. … My teacher had ideas that he got from his teacher. He passed them on to me. I passed them on to my students. … I feel I’m the link in the chain… My ideas from my teachers are passed on to you and you elaborate on them and improve on them … posterity will remember me, if at all, as a teacher rather than a performer.”
So John Allen’s railroad is gone, but almost all model railroads turn to dust. His just turned to dust more dramatically than most. How about his version of recordings (photos and articles). Well, those still live on – for now. But even with the occasional article, or mere mention, or even web site or digital group, that is fading. It is possible that the “data” may exist a very long time, but the number of “clicks” will lessen over the years as the fan base fades away. But the ideas he taught are still resonating and still being passed on. And certainly in some cases, uncredited to John Allen, but influenced by him nevertheless.
Charles E. “Chuck” Kinzer
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