Thursday, January 06, 2011

Model Magic

When I was about seven years old, my father went to Europe on a business trip, taking my mother along as they visited several major cities from London to Paris, Rome and Berlin.  Courtesy of 20th Century Fox, it was a first-class trip all the way, as they visited Fox offices and film labs in each city.

Of course, my perception of these cities was vague at best.  They took hundreds of Kodachrome slides, of course, but the single most valuable connection I would absorb from their trip was a plastic model - a 1/87 scale German hotel they bought for my fledgling train layout.  That little building, which my father and I built together, became representative of the far-off lands across the city, where things looked kind of familiar, but were a little different, and the signs were in languages I didn't understand. 

I looked endlessly at that model, which was a vintage three or four story building, with a cafe on the ground floor that included an outdoor patio. It featured a somewhat alpine architecture rarely seen in the USA.  It transported me in a way that simple photographs or a traditional souvenir couldn't.  Not only was it a miniature slice-of-life, but it was a 3D passage to that strange world. 

I still have that model.  Though I've traveled widely since then, it still retains some of the magic. Now, though, it not only transports me to another place, but to a magical time.

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