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You know, I had thought I had commented on this before, but I didn't. I would have said for sure that is why I joined years ago, but being that I found myself scouring the ads last year for things, that makes it a no I guess. I've made 2 purchases from the ads on the TCA site, and I do find myself browsing occasionally when the newsletter arrives. Why, I guess just curious to see what all is out there. I doubt I will be attending October York this year(if held) because of other reasons. That being said, I most definitely will be up for York come 2023(I hope, lol).

I joined because of the history and resources TCA has to members one of them is the York meet. TCA does alot for the hobby worth every penny. If you joined for the meet only shame on you.

Agreed. The research resources are the best out there, including the ability to reach out to the membership for answers to questions. The York meet is great, but secondary to the massive amount of information available.

PD

Sorry, York is the only thing that TCA has that I'm interested in.  I am sure that TCA national realizes how tightly coupled they are to the Eastern division York show.  My division meets are rotated once a year among four cities.   And they are 80, 245, 210 and 470 miles away. 

But then I only go to DQ for a blizzard, nothing else.

And don't forget the museum - it preserves and presents a wide range of items that most of us would never be able to own. 

York is 550 miles each way, and it's been well worth the trip.  But even without York, I would support TCA for everything else it represents.   IMO, everyone who enjoys toy and/or model trains owes it to each other and to future generations to be a member of at least one of the organizations that support the hobby.

I joined so that I could purchase inventory for the store. Going to York and spending two days with my friends twice a year was the greatest. I never have had so much fun as I did at York. I believe the first time I went was in the fall of 1976. A friend of mine from Blairsville, PA. went with me. That year, I bought all American Flyer S Gauge.

Last edited by jim sutter

I first joined in 1990 and was a junior member under my Dad (he joined in 1966) before that, so TCA membership is a fairly long family tradition. Yes, the ability to go to York is a big benefit of membership, but if that is the only reason you pay your dues, you're missing out. Admission to the York meet (or any TCA meet) is not mentioned anywhere in the TCA mission statement. If I never go to another York meet, I will remain a member of TCA until I die as I believe in what the organization stands for and believe in supporting the organization that does so much to promote our hobby.

As for the "2 signature rule" for membership, I would like to see that reinstated. There is nothing wrong with a sponsoring / vetting process for new members. Many organizations have this in place. It places value on membership and adds a degree of security at events like York (which I'd like to see go back to members-only), where there is a lot of inventory and money changing hands.



John

As I've just passed my 20th year as a member, I get most of my benefit from being active in my Division.  Desert Division is small, but we are likely the most active Division in TCA.  Most of my closest friends in the hobby are in Division.  As a result, TCA has transcended trains and is all about the people for me.  I came into TCA as loner HO modeler and have broadened my knowledge and my interests greatly by learning what drives everyone else in this hobby. 

As for the two-signature rule, I authored the motion that went before the national board as a director at the time to eliminate the two signatures and it was passed both by the national board and by the membership.  I believed then as I do now that requiring two signatures was a way to keep people away from the hobby rather than expand the broad tent that it truly is. 

As the Eastern Division event, York is fun.  No question about it.  However, it is not the reason I belong to TCA.  It is simply another benefit should I choose to take advantage of it.  If I lived closer, I would try and be there more often.   

@GG1 4877 posted:

As I've just passed my 20th year as a member, I get most of my benefit from being active in my Division.  Desert Division is small, but we are likely the most active Division in TCA.  Most of my closest friends in the hobby are in Division.  As a result, TCA has transcended trains and is all about the people for me.  I came into TCA as loner HO modeler and have broadened my knowledge and my interests greatly by learning what drives everyone else in this hobby.

As for the two-signature rule, I authored the motion that went before the national board as a director at the time to eliminate the two signatures and it was passed both by the national board and by the membership.  I believed then as I do now that requiring two signatures was a way to keep people away from the hobby rather than expand the broad tent that it truly is.

As the Eastern Division event, York is fun.  No question about it.  However, it is not the reason I belong to TCA.  It is simply another benefit should I choose to take advantage of it.  If I lived closer, I would try and be there more often.   

What was the purpose of the two signature rule in the first place? Membership in the TCA has been on a steady decline now for a long time. I'm not sure removing the two signature rule has made much of an impact.

Just a thought: I felt at the time when I joined that having the two signature rule made membership in the TCA special and prestigious. Removing the two signature rule, while it had great intentions, perhaps took away some of the prestige of becoming a member.  Now its just another club like lots of other clubs.

What was the purpose of the two signature rule in the first place? Membership in the TCA has been on a steady decline now for a long time. I'm not sure removing the two signature rule has made much of an impact.

Just a thought: I felt at the time when I joined that having the two signature rule made membership in the TCA special and prestigious. Removing the two signature rule, while it had great intentions, perhaps took away some of the prestige of becoming a member.  Now its just another club like lots of other clubs.

The original purpose of the rule as I understand dates back to the early days when TCA was a small club and members truly knew who they were sponsoring.  As TCA grew to its peak of over 20,000 members, the two signature rule became anachronistic as anyone would sign anyone's application to bring in a prospective member.  One perspective is two signatures speak prestige while another perspective is they speak elitism.  I can be objective and see how both sides of that coin can be perceived. 

It is a bit ironic in my personal situation as my sponsors were my father and my uncle and I am proud to be third generation model railroader.  I also became a member at age 32 which is considered a child by today's standards. 

@GG1 4877 posted:

The original purpose of the rule as I understand dates back to the early days when TCA was a small club and members truly knew who they were sponsoring.  As TCA grew to its peak of over 20,000 members, the two signature rule became anachronistic as anyone would sign anyone's application to bring in a prospective member.  One perspective is two signatures speak prestige while another perspective is they speak elitism.  I can be objective and see how both sides of that coin can be perceived.

It is a bit ironic in my personal situation as my sponsors were my father and my uncle and I am proud to be third generation model railroader.  I also became a member at age 32 which is considered a child by today's standards.

I can see how the two signature rule could be interpreted as elitist. I would also concede that the TCA was more of a closed group of buyers and sellers back when it was founded and perhaps it made sense to have members you know and trust.

I also think that towards the end the spirit of the rule was violated by people signing for total strangers.

The slow and steady decline of TCA membership is probably due more to demographics than any membership processes.

Good posts by @GG1 4877 and @Madockawando

I joined in 1989, just as the uptick in membership was starting.  Here's my view on the 2-signature rule.

The dealer from whom I made some of my earliest purchases was an arrogant blowhard (and that's being nice about it), and not very approachable regarding TCA or much of anything else.  I read about TCA in CTT and sent a letter (remember those?) inquiring about membership - never got any response, which left a bad taste in my mouth.  Started buying from a much friendlier dealer who explained things and told me about local meets (remember those, too?).  He and another customer (who didn't know me) signed my application, so there really wasn't any vetting involved.

Reading about the old days of TCA in the 50s and 60s, I understand the idea behind the 2-signature rule, as many transactions were based on item descriptions in letters written between members, so a high level of trust was required.  By the time I joined, local meets were common, so I think it had outlived its usefulness.

I've never liked the idea of having to know someone in order to join an organization - strikes me as elitist.  I would never join a country club for that very reason.  I'm much more in favor of being inclusive and letting a person prove themselves.

Unfortunately, we're losing a lot of local in-person interaction.  Our local chapter's meets, which once included dozens of sellers and hundreds of attendees, dwindled down to where the small number of sellers outnumbered the buyers and died out completely about 5 years ago.  Most of this was due to demographics, but it was also pushed along by arrogant leadership at the division level.

For much of the 90s and 00s, TCA membership seemed to be very transactional to me.  In recent years, there's been more emphasis on relationships, which I think is a good thing, so I'm disturbed by the "I only pay TCA dues so I can go to York and buy stuff" mentality.

End of rant.    

RE: The two signature rule. When I joined (a little over 10 years ago), the rule was still on the books, but as this story illustrates was more or less on the way out.

I was on the phone with the TCA office and the helpful lady said (paraphrasing)...I'm going to fax you an application with two member signatures on it. I received a faxed form and indeed the app had two barely legible signatures. The form looked like it had been re-copied at least a hundred times.

Worked for me.

@johnstrains posted:

RE: The two signature rule. When I joined (a little over 10 years ago), the rule was still on the books, but as this story illustrates was more or less on the way out.

I was on the phone with the TCA office and the helpful lady said (paraphrasing)...I'm going to fax you an application with two member signatures on it. I received a faxed form and indeed the app had two barely legible signatures. The form looked like it had been re-copied at least a hundred times.

Worked for me.

And that is a perfect vignette on why the two signature had to end.

Last edited by Madockawando

Anyone who would like to support the TCA without any spending any extra money can support the TCA by going to smile.amazon.com when making purchases on Amazon. Just choose the TCA as "your" charity and 0.5% of the sale will go directly to the TCA. It may not seem like a lot of money but it adds up after a while.

IMHO, another great benefit of the TCA is if you have an issue with another member or a dealer who is a TCA member and you've tried everything to resolve it you can file a complaint and TCA will step in and help you with the situation. In my 22 years as a member I only needed this benefit once but the TCA was really great. They went to bat for me and the issue got resolved.

@johnstrains posted:

RE: The two signature rule. When I joined (a little over 10 years ago), the rule was still on the books, but as this story illustrates was more or less on the way out.

I was on the phone with the TCA office and the helpful lady said (paraphrasing)...I'm going to fax you an application with two member signatures on it. I received a faxed form and indeed the app had two barely legible signatures. The form looked like it had been re-copied at least a hundred times.

Worked for me.

When I joined in 2010 I was sent that same form as well. I remember it was signed by people in the office. If I remember correctly, the rule was repealed the following year.



Of course, two forum members that I knew had already signed for me so I didn't need it.

I don't think getting rid of the two signature rule caused the decline in membership, that is demographics at work and changing tastes likely. I don't think the idea was to keep this an 'elite' club like a country club, the reason as I was told is because of the selling/buying of items through TCA between members, they were afraid of unscrupulous ppl joining and selling or buying stuff and stiffing someone else. Given the nature of it as a collecting organization, it was a way to have a mechanism to make sure the person was authentic.  The downside was, from personal experience, some did see it as a way to keep it a small group of cronies, especially at the local group level. The crowd that hung out at the local hobby shop were kind of the gatekeepers from what I could tell and some of them seemed treat TCA like a country club.

From what I know, that 2 signature rule extended to York as well. The member halls were designed for member to member transactions from what I was told (met a guy who gave me a non truncated history of York *lol*) so again it was making sure you didn't have unscrupulous ppl joining to rip ppl off. These days the member halls are really just vendor halls anyway, they may belong to TCA, but it seemed obvious these were dealers mostly, not TCA members selling off their personal collections (as the person I was chatting to put it, guys buy out estates for pennies on the dollar and attempt to sell it at ridiculous prices, though in more colorful language).

Given how much the world changed since TCA was founded, dropping the signatures made sense. Lot of people live in areas where there aren't places to meet TCA members, and given that today the world is increasingly virtual, just didn't make sense. With transactions going through the TCA website, it is a lot easier to prevent scams, ban people than the old mail based transactions. 

And honestly TCA is still doing its job. I enjoyed York and if circumstances allow it, I will be going regularly, and I have started going to local events where time allowed. Nice to see there are still people with enthusiasm to run things like TCA and York. I am sure some wish for the old days where it was a close knit community, I understand that, I grumble enough about other things that 'aren't the same' (comes with age and my expanding waistline), but I think they did the right thing. There are things I think TCA should do looking to the future,especially around the website and the like,  but I'll communicate that to them as suggestions

Very interesting thread. I originally joined for York. I look forward to all publications and totally enjoy the museum which I go to at least once a year. TCA Headquarters are 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on traffic, away. The interesting thing is, I just got invoiced for renewal. I thought about the TCA and is it worth it. I am now a HERITAGE Member, so I guess that answers it! Worth every penny. Publications, Library (which I have not used), Museum, Hobby promotion, News, Web Page, Ads (which I have used and searched for things I need or want) and most of all the COMPANIONSHIP of fellow FRIENDS (hobbyist) is worth it all. I do not attend my Atlantic division meets. I went to a show once and it was okay, but the only person who really seemed to care about talking or helping was the President at the time and the fellow who I gave my name to purchase the WAWA car they were coming out with. I do enjoy reading their newsletter. And YES I also donated a little extra. I did the math and if I live 10 more years it was worth going the HERITAGE route! If not it was worth promoting the hobby. Nephew and his son and my grandson are members due to me so YEP WORTH IT!

Curtis Homan

HE 16-71749

@johnstrains posted:

RE: The two signature rule. When I joined (a little over 10 years ago), the rule was still on the books, but as this story illustrates was more or less on the way out.

I was on the phone with the TCA office and the helpful lady said (paraphrasing)...I'm going to fax you an application with two member signatures on it. I received a faxed form and indeed the app had two barely legible signatures. The form looked like it had been re-copied at least a hundred times.

Worked for me.

If the 2-signature rule wasn't actually being followed, then I agree removing it was the right thing to do.  I still would like to see it reinstated and followed; not because I view the TCA as an elitist or exclusive organization, but because it places value on membership and adds a level of security at TCA-sponsored, members-only events. What is wrong with that? As a few posts here have indicated, some people let their memberships lapse if they have missed a York meet or 2 and will then re-join later only if they plan on attending an upcoming York meet. Removal of the 2-member rule essentially makes TCA membership a disposable thing, when it once was something special because you had to have 2 people vouch for you if you wanted to join.

@bigkid posted:

I don't think getting rid of the two signature rule caused the decline in membership, that is demographics at work and changing tastes likely. I don't think the idea was to keep this an 'elite' club like a country club, the reason as I was told is because of the selling/buying of items through TCA between members, they were afraid of unscrupulous ppl joining and selling or buying stuff and stiffing someone else. Given the nature of it as a collecting organization, it was a way to have a mechanism to make sure the person was authentic.  The downside was, from personal experience, some did see it as a way to keep it a small group of cronies, especially at the local group level. The crowd that hung out at the local hobby shop were kind of the gatekeepers from what I could tell and some of them seemed treat TCA like a country club.

From what I know, that 2 signature rule extended to York as well. The member halls were designed for member to member transactions from what I was told (met a guy who gave me a non truncated history of York *lol*) so again it was making sure you didn't have unscrupulous ppl joining to rip ppl off. These days the member halls are really just vendor halls anyway, they may belong to TCA, but it seemed obvious these were dealers mostly, not TCA members selling off their personal collections (as the person I was chatting to put it, guys buy out estates for pennies on the dollar and attempt to sell it at ridiculous prices, though in more colorful language).

Given how much the world changed since TCA was founded, dropping the signatures made sense. Lot of people live in areas where there aren't places to meet TCA members, and given that today the world is increasingly virtual, just didn't make sense. With transactions going through the TCA website, it is a lot easier to prevent scams, ban people than the old mail based transactions.

And honestly TCA is still doing its job. I enjoyed York and if circumstances allow it, I will be going regularly, and I have started going to local events where time allowed. Nice to see there are still people with enthusiasm to run things like TCA and York. I am sure some wish for the old days where it was a close knit community, I understand that, I grumble enough about other things that 'aren't the same' (comes with age and my expanding waistline), but I think they did the right thing. There are things I think TCA should do looking to the future,especially around the website and the like,  but I'll communicate that to them as suggestions

This makes as much sense as anything else posted on this subject.  Good observations!

I joined TCA in '72 (have '73 number since the Pony Express was slow late in 1972).  I certainly did not join solely to go to TCA Meets.

As stated, TCA provides much and asks for little.

Two signatures?  Yep.  I got an application from a train shop in Santa Clara, CA, and had two members (Hank and Vern) sign after a conversation with the group "assessing" my interest in the organization and my knowledge of trains.  That train shop - Schmidty's - was "inhabited" by dyed-in-the-wool, old-line train collectors.  But each had made some contribution to the hobby in his own way.  I was pretty much a young whippersnapper at the time, so, yes, I was certainly judged by the "train jury" at Schmidty's.  But that seemed fair to me since I was entering an organization, back in the '70s,  whose members wanted honesty between and trust among members.

The change away from two signatures is just a response, as bigkid says, to changing times and changing mores.

My membership has worked well for me & will certainly continue, train meets or not.

Bonus:  I've been able to attend 29 York Meets - traveling to each from the west coast.

  Up until 1978 I was under the impression I was the only adult in the world with an interest in toy trains.  Through bitter experience it was an interest I had learned to keep to myself (My G--!  You PLAY  with TOY TRAINS - Hello stupid, you're not a kid - whatsamatter you???? ...and things far worse) .  I was walking away from a yard sale with a very nice train set I had just purchased when one of the other browsers rushed up to me and wanted to know what I was going to do with it.  I gave him a puzzled/defensive look and said, "Take it home, clean it and run it. Why?"

  His response was, "Oh, so you're a member of TCA?"  To which I responded, " What is TCA?" When he told me what TCA was I couldn't believe it - I wasn't alone!  I got the two signatures, and attended my first meet - a local one - and came away feeling just great.  It was only later someone mentioned York and I made it a point to attend - I'm with Nation Wide Lines - York is fun but there is so much more to TCA.

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