Whistlestop History – Part 5

The Original Whistle Stop History Part V
Survival of the Fittest..
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As we enter the next segment of The Original Whistle Stop History, we take one moment in time to, well, play!!

I like it up here – I am the KING! Fred Hill – 3751 road trip.

I like it up here – I am the KING!
Fred Hill – 3751 road trip.

Paul Koehler – 3751 Road Trip How he really earns his salary. “Hey I got Train Stuff for Sale”

Paul Koehler – 3751 Road Trip
How he really earns his salary.
“Hey I got Train Stuff for Sale”

 

Brian Brooks “Someone has to keep the store running smoothly”!!!

Brian Brooks
“Someone has to keep the store running smoothly”!!!

 

Back to the History …
The Original Whistle Stop had moved. Phew! After the turmoil of relocation Fred, Brian and crew began settling into the new store.

That “new carpet smell” was just beginning to wear off when the age of websites opened its door. If you are reading this right now, you are the beneficiary of Fred and Brian’s foresight in bringing The Original Whistle Stop into the cyber age.

Long before “Dot.Com” was a household word, Fred pushed hard for The Original Whistle Stop to be one of the first hobby stores with a web site. A good deal of the growth of our business during the 90’s and into the 21st Century can be attributed to our ability to reach customers, like yourself, at any hour of the day, anywhere in the world via thewhistlestop.com.

Our staff puts forth a great deal of effort to keep the site up to date, and to respond to e-mail requests.

The “REAL” Whistle Stop Staff

The “REAL” Whistle Stop Staff

 

In the middle of adapting to the new location and creating the website, The Original Whistle Stop was struck with a disaster that came all too close to putting the business “Out of Business”.

Southern California is known for an earthquake every so often. Parts of the area have yet to recover from the Northridge quake of 1991. The Original Whistle Stop has survived through many an earthquake with hardly a scratch. Though, in a sense, it was an earthquake which never happened that nearly did us in.

The building that houses the store was built of brick in the early 1940’s. As such it required retrofitting to keep it from collapsing during the next “Big One”. While the roof was removed to install a web of reinforcing steel rods a little thundercloud reared its ugly wet head in October 1997. At about 5:45 one fateful morning it rained pretty hard for about half an hour. On the outside, that is. The water came down like rain on the inside for about four hours.

Some sixth sense dragged Fred from his sleep and simultaneously Brian awoke across town. They both met at the store at about the same moment. To their horror, water was streaming through the ceiling in a dozen places. They threw plastic tarps on everything they could cover. As the day wore on, many friends, employees and customers helped save most of the stock. At one point, there were plastic tarps everywhere, water dripping from the ceiling from new places every few minutes, no electric power and a dozen or so very tired workers soaked from head to toe. Just then a customer slogged through the open front door to the sales counter, his shoes in an inch of water while he asked anyone who would stop long enough to answer “Are you guys open?”
The Original Whistle Stop wasn’t open the rest of that day.
While the inventory was boxed up and put in storage, a contractor was hired to completely gut the place, repaint, replace carpet, and install all new electrical and lighting. The Original Whistle Stop stayed open on a limited basis for six weeks during the rebuilding. Our crew answered phones, sold magazines and filled special orders.

Fred and Brian fought with contractors and insurance companies. Everyone pitched in and worked their tails off.

The way to celebrate – even in the worst of times …

The way to celebrate – even in the worst of times …

 

On the weekend before Thanksgiving The Original Whistle Stop celebrated its reopening with a parking lot party.

Grand “Re-Opening” Celebration

Grill Chefs: Judy Hill and Joanne Orazetii … ANYBODY WANT HOT DOG … THEY'RE FREE!

Grill Chefs: Judy Hill and Joanne Orazetii …
ANYBODY WANT HOT DOG … THEY’RE FREE!

Naturally the rush of customers to the store for its grand re-opening required some “SECURITY”, to guard all those trains! George and Cindy Wiley

Naturally the rush of customers to the store for its grand re-opening required some
“SECURITY”, to guard all those trains!
George and Cindy Wiley

In the years since we were almost washed away, we’ve weathered many storms, as any small business does. We’ve been fortunate to have built a loyal following that literally stretches all over the world.

Our Japan Connection Kenichi Matsumoto, Dr. Dave Allen, Kentaro Hirai

Our Japan Connection
Kenichi Matsumoto, Dr. Dave Allen, Kentaro Hirai

Our Korean Connection Hanjoong Baek, Samhongsa Co., Ltd. & Staff

Our Korean Connection
Hanjoong Baek, Samhongsa Co., Ltd. & Staff

 

Our German Connection Wolfgang Richter, LGB of America & Staff

Our German Connection
Wolfgang Richter, LGB of America & Staff

D-Waynes Wedding Guy and Betty Barlow, Larry Jensen, Bill Redmond, Al Patterson, Rod Thompson, Phil and Julie Porter, Fred and Judy Hill

D-Waynes Wedding
Guy and Betty Barlow, Larry Jensen, Bill Redmond, Al Patterson, Rod Thompson, Phil and Julie Porter, Fred and Judy Hill

 

And our Competition …

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This is what competing with Fred will do to a man!
Al Ichelson, Challenger Imports

Fred Hill, through his active participation in railroad historical groups and industry associations, as well as being partners in an importing company has firmly established himself as a leader in the industry. Brian Brooks has also been active in industry associations, co-authored a booklet and helped raise funds for Santa Fe 3751.

Fred Hill’s encouraging speech congratulating the city of Pasadena for its involvement in pursuing the opening of the “Blue Line”

Fred Hill’s encouraging speech
congratulating the city of Pasadena for its involvement in
pursuing the opening of the “Blue Line”

 

Some of the more important PROMOTIONAL Railroad Activities..

NRHSA – Convention and Costume Contest!

NRHSA1

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!!!

NRHSA2

Chief Jacka Daniels of the Wataka Tribe
and
Anne “J” Oakley

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Narrow Gauge Convention …
Just another evening after a long day of laying … “track”

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National Model Railroad Association
As you can see … working a Convention is very stressful!

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And then there’s……

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The International Model & Hobby Show

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And last, but not least….there’s Chama…

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Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Loop
REAL MEN RUN TRAINS!

Together with our crew, the Original Whistle Stop is proud to have reached 50 years!

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The Original Whistle Stop Christmas Party – 2001 – Staff

Over the years we’ve had quite an eclectic bunch of crewmembers. Among the post- Original Whistle Stop careers that our crew members now pursue, there are railroad engineers, lawyers, horse breeders, architects, ambulance drivers, FEDEX drivers, helicopter pilots, publishers and a host of (mostly) respectable occupations. Some are just retired and full-time model railroaders!

50 years of Whistle Stop Staff
“The Guys”
(We hope we haven’t missed anyone)

Because of your dedication and support we successfully reached our 54th year – Thank You

Jeff Ainsworth
Alex Baez

Tom Baccarella

Gary Barlow
Steve Bishop

Martin Booker
Tim Brooks
Jim Buckley
Danny Caballero
Stan Cox

Val Escudro
Johnny “Bravo” Finnerty
Gary Hanson
Ted Hill
Larry Jensen
Paul Koehler
Gary McClain
Tom Millsap

Bill Parke
Garrett Payne
Michael Reagan

Dennis Ryan
David Sanchez
Kevin Schindler
“Diesel Dave” Smith Alden Armstrong
Gordon Bradley
Matthew Calhoun
John Doherty
Don Garrett
Fred Hill
Bob Hinsey
Ken Johnson
Wayne Lyndon
Dan McKeever
Norman Morin
Lani Muramoto
Page Porter
Karl Riek
Kevin Sanchez
Kurt Schindler
Lyndsay Titus
Steve Waller
Alan Weiss Chris Arnold
Brian Brooks
Mike Collins
John Eyer
Rick Hatcher
Ken Hill
Ian Hunter
Duane Karam
Les Mann
Joe Meindorfner
Joe Murphy
Andy Potter
Randy Ruiz
Dale Sandberg
Lou Schubert
Gary Sugg
Albert Vazquez
Ken Williams

And Those Dedicated Women who survived working for Fred:
Elaine Carmona
Lynn Lyndon
Judy Hill

Carol Calhoun
Barbara Rodriguez
Tina Enos

Josie Hernandez
Esther Werner
Sandra Peron

It’s been a great pleasure spreading our joy of model railroading with you. We look forward to many more years of sharing the fun.

Here is a small glimpse of the next 25 years … that is if trains loose their appeal.

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Fred will go on to try his luck at being a waiter …

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Brian will go on to fame as a Rock Star – or a bad talk show host …..

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Or

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Brian could try his talent in manufacturing – women’s lingerie – since he has the body for it and volunteered help.

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And Fred … Well the only profession left – is in France… (I am not sure even they’ll take him)

All the best,
Fred, Brian and crew of
The Original Whistle Stop.