John Allen’s 100th Anniversary

When Route 66 becomes for a short while 7th Street, for sure, you have reached Joplin, Missouri. The town, once a booming mining community and a busy railroad hub, is famous for being the birthplace of actor Robert Cummings, Afro-american poet Langston Hughes, and the one of the most famous railroad modeller of all times.

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John Whitby Allen was born in Joplin on July 2nd, 1913. Omar Khayam’s Moving Finger decided to make here a round figure: John died in Monterey, California, on January 1973; making of 2013 – 100th anniversary of John’s birth and 40th anniversary of his passing – more than ever the  “John Allen Year”.

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Some aficionados of the Wizard of Monterey gathered on the GandD Yahoo List launched the idea of a worldwide breakfast this morning, July 2nd. Mandatory menu should include at least (in-line with US railroaders practice): coffee, pancakes and jam (interestingly also an acronym for John Allen Memorial). For jam: strawberry is recommended as this fruit can be found in large quantities around Monterey (however, as a result of having mis-configured the GPS of my car and having been circling quite a while in the nearby Salinas plain, I can assure you I have seen more salad fields than strawberry farms, anyway…)

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 French version of the John Allen Memorial Breakfast Poster

I must confess that I am not a big fan of pancakes with strawberry jam. So  I will limit myself today to read a few pages of “The Book”, a.k.a. Model Railroading with John Allen by Linn H. Westcott. I will be working also on a special modelling project connected to the Gore & Daphetid, as an humble tribute to the man who – adapting the famous phrase of François Truffaut about Orson Welles – summed-up 50 past years of model railroading and announced the 50 years that would come.

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John Allen at the controls of the second G&D in Irving Street, Monterey, circa 1950. In the foreground, the famous engine shed and the HOn3 track of the Devil Gulch and Helengon.
In the background: the Mount Alexander.

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