Max, not only did I love your beautifully written memoir, I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw it on this Forum.
You see, a few days ago, I wrote a memoir, and last night I submitted it for publication to a major newspaper. The chances of them publishing it are one in a million, but - you never know.
What is so stunning is the coincidence of seeing your memoir on this Forum after I wrote mine, that you talk a lot about "passion" in your memoir, and the title of my memoir is "Passion: A Memoir," and I am much older than you, and never wrote a memoir until I wrote mine this past Friday!
As much as I love trains like you do, my memoir has nothing to do with trains (mine focuses on baseball), so I would never share it on the Forum. However, if you would like to read it, send me an email (my email address is on my Forum profile), and I would be delighted to send it to you.
Now, you said some things in your memoir that I believe are very insightful.
You are so right about trains attracting some of the most interesting, fun loving people. The expression I like to use to describe them is that they have "joie de vive."
And, when you say that it's the people that are the best thing about the hobby, again, IMO, you are right. It was so heart warming for me to read about, and see in your photos, your wonderful interactions with people at the Strasburg Railroad. I was there 25 years ago with my wife and then young children and took the unforgettable steam engine train ride. What I remember most is the beautiful, young Amish girls walking along the right of way, smiling at me.
Another thing I related to in your memoir is your comment that others thought of you as a weirdo. That is true for me too, particularly when I was a boy when I was totally obsessed with baseball. This being thought of by others as a weirdo is mentioned in my memoir too.
I think you and I are a lot alike, but the biggest difference between us is you are a young man, and I am an old one (now almost 69 years old). But, I never felt better in my life, and feel like a teenager, so even our ages are not that much of a difference. I believe one reason for this is my love for O Gauge trains and my 36 foot by 3 to 4 foot layout in my basement.
I have expressed my passion for model railroading in a song I wrote and performed. The title of the song is "Who Am I (Rollin' By)." You can access it by going on YouTube, putting my name in the search box, and clicking on the video song with that title.
Again, Max, thanks so much for sharing your memoir, I absolutely loved it!
Arnold D. Cribari