I never knew my great grandfather. Born in 1891 Martin Luther Rhodes was a burly, rough and tumble cigar smokin’ railroad machinist and WWI vet that always tipped his hat to women, loved little children, and had a heart of gold. He worked on the railroad his whole life and was extremely talented. As a hobby he would dumpster dive (my word not his) old scrap metal and in his spare time built a to-scale steam locomotive. This baby weighs 300 pounds, measures 6.5 feet long and still works. My dad used to ride it around the yard as a kid. This is hard core. No kit, no map or instruction booklet, just building a train from his memory and genius. When he died he left my dad, his oldest grandchild, two things: his pocket watch he used on the railroad and this locomotive.
I majored in History and get a total kick out of hearing people’s stories. I really love to ask my grandmother about her life, she is a keeper of many secrets and teller of few. During one conversation I learned that my great grandfather had built a locomotive. I asked if it was still around… and discovered an amazing tale of storage units and cousins and different states. After a few years and some smooth styling and fancy footwork I get to house this amazing piece of history. I love everything about it. The history, the look, the freakin’ awesomeness of it and my boys love it (evident by their bedroom).
The train sits proudly on its custom base in our front entry. To me it doesn’t matter at all that six foot long 70 year-old metal isn’t typically what you see when you enter a home. I might not be an entry table kinda gal, but I’m totally okay with that. Kids sometimes knock on the door to see it and the UPS guy even waits for me to open the door just to get a glimpse. It’s a conversation piece and cool is an understatement. My boys love hearing stories of their great, great grandfather and life on the railroad, and I love having this history in our home.
Do you have any heirlooms or vintage pieces that are forgotten that need a place of prominence? Can you display a grandmother’s quilt or frame a favorite recipe? What about the father figures in your life, is there a mining hat, old hammer, or something unique about them that would give dimension and character to your home? Do you have something atypical you can put in your entry? I would love to hear your comments!
(Check back tomorrow on my next post on making the train stand.)