The subject of this editorial changed quite abruptly from what was first on my mind to write. The change was due to the sudden appearance of a late model automobile imbedded in the front foundation wall of my home. The condition of the driver prior to and after the accident are not the concern of this piece, nor is the condition of the other drivers he hit before crashing through my hedges and entering the cellar under the bay window. Fortunately neither we nor the other drivers were seriously hurt, but they were certainly shaken up, and we were shaken.
Besides the foundation damage and some other exterior and interior dents, the pertinent damage occurred to the HO and On2 model railroads which are constructed along the walls of our basement. Once again, by sheer chance, the concrete blocks which flew inwards passed over the On2 locomotive facility, tracks filled with engines, and landed against some HO mountain work, totally demolisring it as well as destroying about a dozen HO cars, some plastic and some collectables from the 1950's. Structures located on this section dissappeared under the rubble.
Our 50 year old home, located on a corner lot, has never been hit before and hopefully never will be again, just a chance happening at 10 p.m. on a clear night. There are, however, some points which have become evident throughout this, some minor, and others more interesting.
The first concerns insurance. Some homeowners policies cover items in the home, others need special riders on specific items. I purchased a rider some time ago, which may cover the car and building damage. I am glad I had this insurance, even though it will not replace the lost items, it will at least provide capital to purchase others. Since none of the more major items were damaged, we got off lightly. It might have been much worse. At first glance, it looked much worse with everything covered under a layer of powdered stone. The NMRA is investigating insurance riders for model railroad equipment and all member model railroaders should be encouraged to look into it.
The internal strength of the table work and walls prevented the crashing concrete blocks from tearing up anymore railroad. Table work must be sturdy and anchored. Except for the area near the immediate fall-in, no other cars or locomotives jumped the rails due to the bombardment.
Accidents are quirky. A model caboose which just one day before took a Merit Award at the NER fall convention was hit at least four times in different places by heavy falling blocks, but sustained only minor damage: paint chipping, dirt, detached sides, and ends. With some glue and paint touch-ups, this styrene car will run again, but the HO metal and plastic cars tossed about by the blocks and then crushed, did not make it. As far as I can tell, except for the demolished section, the rest of the tablework moved not at all.
My feelings toward the driver of the car are not ambivalent. Through his carelessness and disregard for himself and others, my home and my work have been violated. Like being robbed, the hurt will heal in time, but the loss will not be erased. Never will I be able to look at that area without seeing the broken efforts and listening for the sounds of screeching tires and crashing metal. Had I been standing there, I would not be writing this.
And the real truth of the matter is that it could happen again, but probably will not and that there is nothing whatsoever I can do to prevent the possibility. It isn't reassuring, but it is the way things are.