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Spud Valley Hobby Show 2018

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For 40 years, the Spud Valley Show has been the go to event for model train and other hobby enthusiasts to gather in Fargo. Over the years plenty of hobby shops have come and gone. In 1985 there were 2 Lionel service centers in Moorhead, MN! Still, the annual show brings out a whole bunch of hobbyists to buy and sell not only model railroad items but model airplanes, diecast cars, model tractors, plastic models, railroad antiques, and vintage toys. Nobody sell vintage toys from the 1970s or 80s yet. This year I went early and was amazed at the size of the crowd. It was actually difficult to get around the room. I also landed one of my best buys ever the Marx Bubbling Water Tower in excellent condition. I had been looking for it for a while and got for $10. After Marx sold the dies, K-line produced this water tower up until perhaps 2009. I also decided to get a fire truck to put on the layout. It is a well detailed 1/43 diecast and plastic model.    Overall it was a below average show…

The Black Building Revisited

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I sauntered through the general public levels of Fargo's Black Building the other day. It has been a while since I visited the old digs of HCC and Bertrossa's. As of 2018, the building is going through some more renovations and restorations thanks in part to the Kilbourne Group.
The first 2 floors plus the basement collectively had been known as Elm Tree Square since before I was born I suspect (1972 to be exact). A faux Victorian style still permeates the basement area. Now missing are the fountain and a tenant for the cafeteria that Bertrossa's previously held. When on, the fountain was very noisy. One of the local escape rooms take up most of the basement suites: https://puzzledescaperooms.com/. I think also saw a psychic parlor- but that may be one of the escape room stages. A dozen years ago I did a concert here for a coffee shop that was hoping to revive its fortunes in the Elm Tree environs.
HCC rented space in the basement from around 2002 until maybe 2003. The su…

Molly Marine on Memorial Day

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A salute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice serving in the US Armed Forces. This year let's tip the hat to the ladies who served in the Marine Corps.    Molly Marine has the distinction of being the first statue of a service woman in uniform in the United States. Erected in 1943 in New Orleans, the original statue was used to encourage women to join the Marines during WWII. Artist Enrique Alferez created the monument from a composite of a few female Marine models. More information here. 2 full sized replicas were later made and stand at Quantico, VA and Parris Island, SC- training centers for women Marines.  Pictured above is a small replica that I found at the local antique store. It probably sat in some Marine recruiter's office for years before findings its way to Moorhead. Actress Bea Arthur, famous for the TV programs "Maude" and "Golden Girls,"  joined the Marines a few months before Molly appeared. Then known as Bernice Frankel, the…

Fargo Marathon nearly in sight

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As the Fargo Marathon for 2018 approaches, I will for the first time since its inauguration not be imbedded in the event as a volunteer. Due to loss of work circumstances back in March, I made the decision not to commit to volunteer when I had no idea where I would land. Not having landed a job yet I checked the volunteer sign up website last week only to find it was closed. So just speculation as to whether they already got their volunteer quota or not. I did not ask- they have better things to do this week than answer my questions. Despite it being scorching hot in the lead up to the main races, it looks like it might be near optimal conditions (overcast with lo:42 hi:62) with some sprinkles. Friday night for the 5k looks like there will be potential rain. Depends on when that system enters town should be pleasant if it rains after dark.
New this year is the Great American Mile. By the looks of it I would say it is marketing event- something to get those who like beer to run a litt…

Signs of Beer: Hamm's again

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When compared to the more elaborate scene-o-rama Hamm's signs, this one is plain simple. I saw this example at one of the local pawn shops. These simpler signs still have a bit of value because of the desirability of the Hamm's name. Also note that the crest is not an image but molded. My guess you can get one of these for between $50-150 depending on condition. I forgot how much the pawn shop was charging- my thought was $65.
This sign was probably made in the later period of the original Hamm's label- my guess 1970s or 1980s. It seems to have the styling of the Olympia years.
Hamm's started to lose traction as it attempted to go national in the 1960s. In 1970s the label was traded around to different brewers including Olympia. It is still brewed today, albeit mostly in the upper Midwest. I tried it once. It was okay but nothing distinctive to my poor tasting skill.
It is odd that a beer with such recognizable marketing diminished. Yet, that was sign of the times for…

We need a Granite City train show

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240 miles separates where I am at and the Twin Cities. Almost the same amount separates my home base and Winnipeg. For 70 less miles and reduce my drive time by 1.5 hours, I can get to St. Cloud, the Granite City. Once again I spent some time at the Granite City Train Show a few weeks ago. This train show has been going on for a while- maybe like 10 years- and it has been my go to show for buying model trains and railroad related items. Last spring they moved the show from the Armory to the River's Edge Convention Center in downtown St. Cloud. The convention center allowed much more space and a lot more parking. This spring the show was just a bit sparse. I noted quite a few vendors were not present. I overheard amongst the chatter that the Newport Club was having one of their sales the same day down in Woodbury. I have written about that one and attended last year. Woodbury is a large draw and Twin Cities based vendors may find it more attractive than lugging their wares up to S…

Lionel Stuff: Lumber Shed Revisited

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I acquired an assembled version of the Lionel lumber shed structure last year and blogged about it here. It is still ridiculous how much these are going for on the market. Do not get me wrong, it is a good model, but shelling out $20 - $30 dollars for one is extravagant. It just does not have much collectible value. Since it gets attached to the Lionel name some sellers assume it is something akin to precious metal. So it is ideal to find these outside the typical Lionel searches. I would think that if the Lionel name were not attached this would be just another mass produced plastic structure.

While at the October Fargo Toy and Train show I found the lumber shed in a modified form.


I am not entirely sure what scale the alteration was intended- I am guessing N since most of the other items around it were for N.

It certainly is a bit of a scale stretch to plausibly utilize the structure in the smaller scales. The work bench and the storage bin would have to be removed to give the stru…