Reflections on a Friendship


I only knew Sam for two years, and it was certainly not long enough. He was a teacher and mentor to me. He helped me to improve my own modeling skills, provided many wonderful suggestions for my layout, and built several of the structures that will live there. I can't tell you how much his friendship meant to me. I'm sure that all who knew him feel the same.

Sam was the first to contact me from the ETE after I announced my presence on the ETE Yahoo forum. Right off, he invited me to come to an ETE meeting in Phoenix. In that same e-mail, he told me the small number of ETE members there were thinking of forming an official chapter, and asked if would I be interested. I was excited about that. The thought I might have face-to-face contact with people who shared my interest in European trains was good news indeed.

When we met Sam, my wife, Karen, and I were impressed by his quiet friendship. And the stories he had to tell! It seemed he knew just about everyone. Every time we got together, I got another glimpse into his fascinating history and accomplishments.

We had common origins in that Sam spent his early childhood about 20 miles from where I grew up in Michigan, ten years apart in time. His maternal grandmother had lived in my home town, and on a couple of my trips back there, I photographed for him, the house she had lived in, as well as his own childhood home. He had wonderful memories of those days of his youth, and enjoyed sharing them with us.

I am grateful to have had such a friend and teacher. Some of the best memories I have of Sam are those when we exchanged ideas about the layout I am constructing.  He always had good ideas, but never forced them on me. He would end his suggestions with "But remember, it's your layout." Reflecting back on those words, he wasn't quite right. It started out as my layout, but now it will always be mine and Sam's.

Tim Johnson, Tucson, Arizona   May 2007