Dave’s Rant About Our Fellow Modelers

(UPDATE NOTE: Holy smoke. This rant has generated a HUGE response.)

 



Rant Mode On

Am I Guilty?

You know, modelers as a group are getting to be pretty old dudes, and none of us are getting any younger. The average age in our hobby is above 50, and there are fewer and fewer of us. Why in the hell don’t we take better care of each other?

A couple of days ago a fellow modeler died after fighting cancer for about a year.

You didn’t know him. His name was Edward J. Bolling, a former Marine and current Fairfax County Police Department officer in Virginia. Ed was an extremely avid 1/72 modeler and all-around nice guy, although he was a very private man. Ed loved his wife and very young son, and was only 42 when he passed, younger even than the average person in our hobby.

I first met Ed back in 1998 when he came into Meteor soon after I opened my first storefront. He was the beat cop for our area, and being the exceptionally conscientious man he was, he got his butt out of his squad car and physically checked to ensure the doors to the businesses under his watch were actually locked.

Ed had checked our doors the night before and noticed our tiny Meteor Productions logo on the door. As a modeler, he recognized our name and visited the next afternoon to introduce himself. Thereafter he visited us 2-3 times a week during his lunch hour.

A few years later Ed was transferred to a different police division and could no longer come by . . . we only saw him a few times a year after that. Luckily for him, there was, and is, a superb hobby shop called Piper Hobby in his new patrol area and he became a regular there.

So I kind of lost track of Ed. I heard he got married, then that he had a son. He came by Meteor a few weeks after he was returned to duty after having been forced to shoot a bad guy in the line of duty. It really bothered Ed, but the bad guy was trying to stab him to death.

Then, last Friday, a mutual friend sent a group email telling us Ed had passed. First I was shocked.

Then, I was pissed.

How the hell did I let so much distance accumulate between a really good guy that I liked a lot and me? How did I fail to know he had cancer? I don’t know what I could have done to help him, but I sure as hell could have been there if he needed me. We weren’t necessarily the closest of friends, but he was a good guy that I liked and respected.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not angry none of his other friends mentioned this to me–if they even knew about it. Not specifically their responsibility.

I went to his wake (visitation) late in the six-hour long observance. No other modelers there (surely some went earlier or later than me), but there were at least 50 police officers present. When a cop falls, even due to illness, his brothers rally.

This issue bears some serious consideration. We’re all getting older, and some of us are fucking OLD. As modelers, it’s a definite fact that nobody in the world except another modeler has any clue how we’re wired—and it doesn’t matter most of the rest of the world just thinks we’re weird. I think we really need to take better care of each other.

Many of us have families to lean on, but some don’t. I can’t imagine a worse fate than to get sick and maybe even die alone. Some people want to keep sickness private, which is their prerogative. But even a person who wants to curl up and die and who rejects sympathy might well appreciate simple friendship during a time of need.

You’ll do what you want, and what you think is right. For myself, I’m paying a lot closer attention to my modeling friends—including the ones I’ve lost contact with—and working to rekindle dormant friendships.

If one of our brethren has problems, I’m going to make sure his other modeling friends know, as long as it’s consistent with his wishes. I’ve learned my lesson. I feel a responsiblity to help fellow modelers help mutual friends who are in trouble–and help before the trouble become terminal.

IMO, hanging together sure beats hanging separately.

So, am I guilty? Yes, but dear Lord, I’m tryin’.

Are you?

Rant Mode On

 


Whew.

This rant generated BY FAR the most commentary of anything I’ve ever written for the modeling community, and that includes all the stuff I did back at Meteor.  It also resulted in the largest number of “spam reports” and unsubscribes I’ve ever experienced. Go figure!

You guys (and one gal!) sent hundreds and hundreds of emails, many including a personal story or two.

Except for one guy.  He wrote quite firmly that if anything ever happened to him, if he got sick or whatever, it would be private and nobody else’s damned business.  He is exactly correct: it’s his personal business just as it is for each of us in similar circumstances.  Yes, without doubt there are some serious assholes in the modeling hobby, but that’s true of life in general.  I tried to make this clear in my rant, but not sure he really understood that we’re on the same wavelength.

I did not and do not wish to imply or urge anyone to pry into other’s private affairs when not wanted, but I hope and pray that guys think highly enough of their friends to accept their friendship in times of need as well as the better times.

Below are a selection of the responses to my rant, published with permission of the writers. I think each of them has something useful to teach us, and I hope you do too.

Dave


From Michael Mettman:

Hi Dave,

I can completely understand how you feel.  Three years ago I had a serious car wreck.  I’m pretty well busted up from it now and have been told I will never work again or be able to do things I enjoyed before. 

I have a family that stands by me and loves me, but its difficult.  I try to build when I can and get discouraged a lot!  People in general are, well lets just say cruel.  Yeah I’ve heard "I’ll call you", "Let’s get together" and such. 

I suffer with pain daily and headaches that would probably make most people scream.  I see specialists that work with me and I get on average 18-22 injections without freezing while I am awake from the base of my skull to my mid back to help tolerate some of the pain for a short period of time.

So the internet is my "friend".  I like to read what’s new out there and see what others are working on.  Get damn jealous – not – when I see some nice kits built up that I have in my own stash that someone has turned into masterpieces.  And, always laugh at the rivet counters and the expertise they have on any given subject.  You know the ones I’m sure.  I always enjoyed your products, and miss them not being available anymore. 

I’m really glad you posted this today.  It’s made my day a little brighter.

Thanks Dave! 

Kindest Regards,

Michael Mettman 

 


 

From Kevin Fox:

Well said! Your email brought a couple of thoughts to mind.

I live in a small town in rural Illinois. When I was a kid, I rode my bicycle all over town from the moment I woke up until suppertime every day. One of my favorite places to ride to was a hardware (and furniture) store on the square. I’d go in and bullshit with the owner or the salesclerks, marveling over the latest shipment of Estwing hammers or admiring the woodworking tools for hours on end.

One afternoon when I was fifteen, I went in and asked the owner, Eugene, for a job—washing windows, mopping floors, stocking shelves, or whatever he needed me to do. That evening he called my dad and told him that I had come in to his store seeking employment and that he would like to hire me to work after school and on Saturdays. (This was in the good old days when the bastard box stores didn’t exist, so nobody in our small town was open on Sundays, or very late in the evenings.)

At any rate, my father replied that he thought it was a fine idea and that he should “feel free to work my ass off”, which of course Mr. Cox did many, many times. I worked for him throughout high school and during the summers while I was in college. I can’t tell you how much I learned working for him.

In those days, people expected you to know something about the merchandise you sold, and if they wanted an item we didn’t stock, I had to find a place we could order it for them. I worked harder in that job than I ever have since, and much of what I learned from him had nothing at all to do with tools or coffee percolators, but guided me through my later life and career.

After my sophomore year in college, I had to quit working there to concentrate on my studies. The hardware store soon had new competitors in town—some national chain stores and eventually the dreaded Walmart, and it closed a few years later. Mr. Cox and his wife retired to warmer climates and we lost touch.

I often told stories about some of the funny things that happened while I worked at the hardware store, and some of the really, stupid, stupid things I did that should have gotten me fired. I wondered if Gene was still alive, and whenever I would run into another former co-worker, we always asked each other if he knew anything about his health, etc.

Last year, he passed away in Louisiana and his children brought him back here to be buried. I didn’t know about it until several weeks later. I can’t tell you how sad that makes me. He was a great guy and I missed the chance to tell his kids how much their father meant to me.

The other thing your rant made me think of is this: 

My wife and I bought the house my paternal grandparents built in 1955. We remodeled it and have lived here since 1995. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents when I was growing up, and got to know their neighbors quite well.

One of them is a retired gentleman who lives in the house that faces my back yard, and since moving in he and I have gotten to be good friends. I have known Ray for more than 30 years, and have spent more spare time than I care to tell shooting the bull as we both rest a moment and let our riding mowers cool off. We’ve talked about everything under the sun—families, neighbors, kids, etc.

Two years ago we had a terrible windstorm that devastated this whole part of Illinois. It was described as a wall of tornadoes or a land hurricane, but what ever you call it, we had no power or landline telephones or cable TV, and a huge number of trees were literally blown over.

I lost more than twenty trees in my yard , including several 100 year old oaks that barely missed my house as they fell. Everyone in this area spent countless hours cutting down or cutting up damaged or down trees and limbs. One evening after a full day of running my chain saw, I shut it down and waved Ray over to have some lemonade.

We sat on my deck talking for a while, wondering when the power was going to be restored. I mentioned that I was reading Stephen Ambrose’s book “The Wild Blue” and asked if he had served in WW II. He began telling me that he had served in the Air Force in the war, flying out of England in a B-24. He went on to tell me that he and his crew had bombed targets in Germany and that he had been part of the 458th bomber group.

I was stunned, to say the least. I’ve known this guy almost all my life and didn’t know any of this about him. He is a quiet soft-spoken man that I had never even imagined the things he had done and seen. He was (and is) very reticent to speak of his wartime experiences, but he has opened up some.

I searched the internet and found pictures of the plane he flew in and also a picture of him and the others in his crew posing by their plane. He was moved to tears seeing them, and I hold him in even higher regard because I realize that he is part of a generation of men that is almost gone now. He is a better man than I ever knew.

I’m not sure if either of these will be of any interest to you, but I think they connect with your story in that we often cross paths with people without knowing much about them, or giving them much thought. We hustle about our lives, sometimes missing the chance to tell someone that you appreciate them for their sacrifice, or for the lessons they can teach or have taught us. It is perhaps ironic that in the cell phone and social networking age that we do very little real communicating. I am sorry for the loss of your friend.

Kevin Fox

 


 

From David Belford:

Hi Dave,

I completely agree with your rant. I’d also like to add that maybe us older modelers should start thinking about reducing that huge stockpile of unbuilt kits we all seem to have "collected" over the years.

If you’re 60, do you really think you’re going to live long enough to build all of those 2500+ unbuilt kits? Every older modeler I know has at least over 500 kits, many of them over 1000. Try donating to the National Museum of the Marine Corps’ model drive or maybe have the local IPMS chapter sponsor numerous model builds for younger kids and donate your kits and time to that.

We need to keep the hobby infused with new blood if we want this to continue when we’re worm food. I know I’m not going to live to 300, which is what I would need to complete all of the models I have. I’ve been thinning the herd, and hopefully, someday a Marine who receives some of my models will show off their handiwork in FSM. That would be cool.

If just one person becomes interested in the hobby because of my donated kits, then I’ve replaced myself when I’m gone and the hobby continues. If two or more people become interested, then I’ve not only continued the hobby but I’ve helped it to grow.

 David

 


From Tom Butz

Dave,

Read your rant – you are “right on!” – this past year I lost a dear friend and modeler of a different persuasion (he did HO gauge trains). In his case we had lost his wife a year or so earlier, and we knew he had been quite sick (due to exposure to Agent Orange when flying C-130’s in the Greater Southeast Asian War Games of 1960-76) but in recent years he had seemed to have recovered and had his huge basement train setup nearly finished.

While we were in Alaska last summer we received a voice-mail on our phone at home that he had died. When we finally got ahold of his daughter (who was supposedly handling things) we found out that he had finished a trip to Alaska with his family, and then returned home with a cold. As happens when your system has been damaged in the far-distant past, he went into the hospital but never came out. She advised us that there would be a memorial at his home just outside of Colorado Springs, and that she would let us know details. We waited a few days and never heard anything. We tried the e-mail she had used, and it turned out to be his, thus we did not have an e-mail address or phone number for her.

Bottom line – we never got to say good-bye to our dear friend, fellow modeler and card playing buddy – Bob Herrle. (Dave I don’t know if you ever ran across him during your times in the San Bernardino area – he was attached to the C-141 wing at Norton for awhile then transferred over to Wing Plans and retired sometime in the early 1980’s.)

Now something similar has happened again – this time it’s a fairly new friend – Kase Dekker – formerly with KLM and a travel agent in the LA area. I got to know Kase through our joint work as volunteers in the American Aviation Historical Society’s office in Huntington Beach. His latest project was to redo the Heller L-1049 into KLM colors. He didn’t get very far along on it when his internal organs began shutting down, quite suddenly (after about two weeks of illness) he passed away last week. Once again we are dependent upon someone from the family remembering tocontact his friends and acquaintances in the AAHS.

Well, Dave, I wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your “rant” – I agree with you there seems to be a need for a better way of keeping track of one another, but I am not certain what it is. Let me know if you come up with a good idea.

Tom Butz

 

From Corinne Dekker:

Got this response today from Kase Dekker’s daughter, and am posting it to help illustrate the fact that not only do our friends appreciate (usually!) our attention, but their families do too:

Someone named Tom mentioned the passing of my dad, Kase Dekker, in the comments after your fabulous rant. I am glad he heard the news from AAHS, as there was of course no way we had the contact info for everyone Kase knew.

I know he didn’t mean criticism, what he wrote was so sweet, and I was just so deeply touched to see someone talking about my dad 🙂 He died four weeks ago today, on 2/7. Seventeen years ago he had a benign brain tumor removed, and with it they had to take his pituitary gland. The doctor said at the time that the replacement medication he had to take would get him in the long run, and it is exactly what happened – about 12 years after the time most people expire from it, so we were truly blessed.

Kase managed to foist a deep love of airplanes even onto his horse crazy daughter, and I am so happy that we had trips based around which plane we’d be on, no matter how roundabout it may have been getting to the destination!

We will miss our Flying Dutchman, and I hope there is a place in Heaven where he can pilot a Connie.

Loved the rant.

Corinne Dekker

Corinne’s comments suggest one thing each of us can consider doing: making a "contacts" list with name, phone number, and email of all the people in our lives who are important to us, including the top two people in the various organizations we belong to. I suggest two, because fairly frequently one of them is too busy, or out of town, or whatever, and isn’t able to let the other members of the organization know our status. Keep it with your important papers (insurance, medical, DD214, etc.) so your family can find it easily.

Hey–don’t do it if you don’t wanna . . . but’s it not a bad idea! And it would only take a couple of minutes to do.

Dave


From Greg Vanderstel

As a society we are moving further apart even as the internet is supposedly bringing us all closer together. What’s the point of having hundreds of “friends” on Facebook that we’ve never met?

I believe in keeping in touch with people and being a true friend and support to people I associate with when they are in need. That includes my modeling buddies. Not everyone wants or appreciates this level of interest, and in those cases I back off and be as much of a friend as they want me to be with no hard feelings.

We owe it to each other as human beings not to lose site of the importance of personal interest and caring. It’s great to know people in Russia or Thailand through the internet, but we can’t forget our next door neighbor.

Thanks for listening,

Greg Vanderstel

 


From Bari Tarmon

Hi David,

I absolutely agree with your “rant” and how important it is to perpetuate the hobby and the historical lore it follows.

I too live next door to a house where a hero had lived until his death a few years ago. He never told his family about his service. I mentioned one day about my modeling and he said something that made me ask him outright if he has served. Turns out he was a ROG on B-17s while serving in the 350th BS of the 100th BG out of Thorpe Abbots. I did some research and found his squadron and photos of the possible planes he was on, as he hadn’t remembered any names. His family was astounded that I was able to get him to talk about his service and appreciated the efforts I made to coax his experiences out so they now knew what a hero he was.

When I took up modeling after a long hiatus, I decided that whenever possible, if I became acquainted with someone who flew in a warbird I was going to model, I would depict the plane they flew in when I built the model version of it.

David, you and many others are lucky to have friends that you can rely on and be in touch with. I happen to have no friends here, let alone modeling buddies. I miss having the ability to just call or drop in on someone and talk modeling and history with. I live in a rather large suburb but due to different reasons I won’t go into, I don’t have that opportunity.

The main point here is the maintenance of relationship without all the flakey excuses of being too busy, is essential for families and our society to flourish. I get excuses from family and the few people I know, that they are just too super busy these days to meet. I get really ticked off when I hear that. Life has always been busy! Folks always have to work, study, take care of family, business, chores, etc.

We used to have less time than today because we didn’t have all the conveniences of today. And yet, people used to spend more quality time with each other. We make choices and decide priorities and that’s what is determining whether we have time for one another. If we lose social interaction to non-personal means of communication and excuses, we’ll lose our history and our meaning for living.

Thanks for voicing your concern. The fact that you generated so much interest is a positive sign that others are concerned as well.

Bari Tarmon

 


From Guillermo Alfaro, a brother modeler from Guatemala . . . English is not his native language, and I’ve reprinted his note exactly as he sent it so you can see all the effort our brother had to put into his message to us all:

Dave,

I red about Rant, and maybe this poem i wrote for a modeller friend who died two years ago i think it’s a good poem for Rant who earn his wings from God and any modeller who is flying with the angels,

The poem originaly it’s in Spanish, i try to change to english, i copy both Spanish an English, i’m not very good translating but i do my best, i’m from Pochuta, Guatemala, Guatemala.

Best regards

Guillermo Alfaro

ENGLISH VERSION FOR RANT

I know some place in the clouds
i will find my destiny;
I left a legacy of finished models,
left a legacy of modeling history,
My Country USA, my association ( i let space if he was IPMS)
my fellow modelers, my good friends
i give you this words:
I conceive the modelling as a specially
designed place to guard our creations,
our thoughts around plastic nature;
a lonely impulse push me to this world of
plastic, scent of glue, paint and decal arts,
Everything wheigh up, memories, mind modelling;
the future years seems to fly like the speed of a
modelling magazine, renovating constantly,
searching for new techniques, new tips,
always in constantly evolution,
now the futile breath of the years in
this world of modelling aviation touch ends,
reach his goal like a dogfight,
at end everything it’s equal life and death,
i’m waiting for you up in the sky fellow modeler,
the final flight comes to an end,
God the Creator at last has grant my wings,
now i’m flying with the Angels.

ORIGINAL VERSIÓN IN SPANISH

Sé que en algún lugar entre las nubes
he de hallar mi destino;
dejo un legado de modelos,
dejo un legado de historia modelista;
mi país es Guatemala, mi sede ESCALA
paisanos y compañeros modelistas
les dejo estas palabras:
el modelismo lo concibo como un espacio diseñado

especialmente para alojar propuestas de creación y
pensamiento en torno a la naturaleza del plástico,
un solitario impulso de deleite me empujó a este
tumulto entre el aroma del pegamento,
thinner, pintura, plástico y calcomanias,
todo lo sopesé, de todo hice memoria,
los años por venir me parecieron,
volar con la velocidad de una revista en

continua renovación buscando siempre
nuevos tips, nuevas técnicas,
siempre en constante evolución, mas ahora
vano aliento,
el aliento de los años transcurridos en

el mundo del modelismo y la aviación
llegan a su fin, llegan a su meta,
como un combate Dogfight, al final todo llega
en igualdad con esta vida y esta muerte;
los espero arriba, compañeros modelistas
el vuelo final a llegado, mis alas el creador al
final me a las a concedido, ahora vuelo con los
Angeles.

 


From Drew Pooters

Hi Dave!

I had time to think about your “rant” – which it isn’t really…it’s an accurate perception of what is happening to the generations with technology. To cure this ill, and to impart some skills on kids whose skills stop at the use of fingers and opposite thumbs on a handheld video game, I suggest the following:

1. Volunteer time and kits to the Boys & Girls Club near you; Be an instructor, especially in the summertime.
2. Donate your work to the local schools; if they can’t get the kids to the museum, bring the museum to the kids; The very presence of a 1/72 scale U-505 made kids beg their parents to take them to the Chicago Museum Of Science & Industry. When one Dad who thought the answer to everything was to buy it, I turned down the offer of $700 for it (the U-Boat). I chided him thusly: “…money will NEVER replace the time you spend with your son building it, nor will he learn that money doesn’t buy skills or intelligence.” Pissed? Yes. But the other parents agreed with me.
3. Build for the aging vets who can’t. but want to leave a legacy for their grandkids. I found that half dozen planes I built in that regard to be the most satisfying work I ever did.
4. Wanna live forever? Build for museums. Some of my work is still on display at the Museum of Atomic History in Albuquerque, when I was an Airman stationed there in the 80’s. My kids have seen my work, and in about 20 years, it’ll be grandkids.
5. And, of course, stop complaining and DO. Take the “Patton” approach and you can’t go wrong.

Cheers!

Drew Pooters

 


 

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