I left New York nearly five years ago. The experience of leaving New York has taught me one thing. You can leave New York, but New York never, ever really leaves you.
It was like that for The Bronx as well.
I left The Bronx for Flushing when Eileen and I were first married. Then we moved to New Rochelle and on to East Quogue on the east end of Long Island.
All through the last forty-five years, when I have lived elsewhere, I considered myself a Bronx Boy. The Bronx was where I grew up, and I think many people share the sentiment regarding the home of their formative years.
I continue to feel that way, and I may live in Florida but remain a New Yorker and a Bronx Boy.
Every year I reconstruct and reconfigure my Lionel train layout.
Back in East Quogue, it was easier to decide how to do this. I would have three 4×8 sheets of plywood on each of which a different diorama would be erected.
One would be dedicated to classical Lionel postwar accessories. A log loader; several types of coal loaders; operating bridges; and other Lionel operating switches and lights. The trains operated on this layout would be classic postwar items, including Santafe and New York Central diesels from 1950.
A second would consist of more recent Lionel creations, including a nuclear power plant, and would have trains produced in this century.
The third layout was my favorite.
It was my Ode To New York.
From Yankee Stadium to the South Ferry with stops at the Automat and Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center and the Times Building for New Year’s Eve, as well as the Empire State Building and the Flat Iron Building, this layout was a sight to behold.
The only thing missing was the Subway.
Oh, wait! We had two subways represented/
The IRT 6 train and the BMT Coney Island Train.
On this layout, The Bronx was up, and the Battery Down and the people did ride in a hole in the ground.
It was glorious.
So, here I am in Florida with only one board, a 5×9, on which to create my Lionel universe. In recent iterations, I have built layouts utilizing bridges and accessories. It has been a long time since NYC was represented.
Well, this year is going to be different.
Yankee Stadium will have a subway encircling it, albeit the 6 train and not the 4.
The rest of my New York Skyline will be south of the Stadium, and the trains servicing the city will be the traditional New York Central and New Haven Lines.
I have even created an appropriate playlist.
Of course, Sinatra will be singing New York, New York
Billy Joel will be enchanting us with A New York State Of Mind.
And last but not least, Sinatra and Gene Kelly will be singing New York New York’s a Helluva Town.
I may be living in Florida, but my toys tell me I am still a New Yorker.