Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tiny Town Tragedy

About 3 miles from where we live, just around the bend, there is a little place called Tiny Town. Tiny Town, established 95 years ago, is a town of tiny buildings built along a stream and up the side of the mountain. It was a gift for a little girl who asked her daddy for a doll house. He made her a whole town instead and now, for a very small fee, children everywhere can come and tour the little town. Some of the house are built for entry. The kids can go in and peek out the windows, creating great picture ops. Others are furnished and staged with dolls like Barbie. You can peek inside and see the chiropractor adjusting Barbie's neck or Barbie and her friends square dancing in a red barn. Tiny Town is thriving with a grocer, several churches, schools, and the most recently added Home Depot. She even has a railroad system.

Running around and through the town is a child sized train that one can ride for $1. The conductor gives a bit of history on the town and safety instructions for the ride sprinkled with humor and then you are off for a 10 min. train tour of Tiny Town.

There is a lovely gift shop (life sized) full of train toys and other souvenirs. My sons very much enjoy the ice cream shop as well. You can buy lunch there or are welcome to bring your picnic basket and dine at picnic tables shaded by trees. A playground is available too so kids can play and run off even more energy before you head home.

For the first time in Tiny Town's 95 years there was a train derailment a few weeks ago. I believe 12 were injured. Some as severe as broken bones. It was a very sad event! Aaron and I were worried for the establishment, as the train is a HUGE draw. Drew was a little afraid to ride it the first time we were there and so we decided not to tell the kids about it.

Prior to the derailment, my old friend, Sarah, and I made plans to get our children together at Tiny Town. Sarah and I were friends in high school and, except for a few brief meet ups, we had not spent any time together in over a decade.

Before Sarah arrived the boys proceeded to tell me that there had been an accident at Tiny Town. Apparently it was much discussed at school last week. I made sure that they knew it would be safe and to not mention it to Sarah's little ones because we do not want to scare them.

As we pulled into the parking lot of Tiny Town we noticed a news truck. Apparently this was the day of Tiny Town's reopening of the train since the accident.

How fun! I thought, They will probably film us on the train. I figured there would probably be a glimpse of us on the news of us passing by.

The kids climbed into the caboose. The caboose is kids only. It's completely enclosed and they lock the door so they can't just open it up on their own while the train is moving. In the derailment it was the only car that stayed on track. Sarah and I found a spot somewhere in the middle of the train.

The conductor began his spiel that he/they always say. He seemed to go on a little longer this time then before....maybe hamming it up for the TV crew? His long windedness did not bode well with the little boy sitting in front of us. My guess was that he was not quite two. His poor parents felt really bad as their child did the arched back, floppy thing and cried and fussed and tried to basically escape. Sarah and I had been there and done that and tried to reassure them that their child was normal and we had seen/handled worse.

Finally we were off! I could hear Drew calling to me from the caboose and I turned back to smile and wave to him. The train ride was slower then usual but lovely just the same. Going around the curve where it derailed was mildly somber as you could just imagine how scary it must've been (a long fall into the stream below.)

When the ride was over, we retrieved our children and Sarah was promptly approached by a news reporter and cameraman. They asked her questions about any intrepidation she may have had regarding the train and how the ride was today. Sarah gracefully answered questions and we pressed on to the main attraction: a tiny town.

The kids were running from building to building except for Gabriel. Gabe poked along, shoulders slumped and dragging his feet.

"What's wrong buddy?"

"I am just so sad because they did not ask me any questions after they asked your friend! It's been my life long dream to be on the news!" he whined.

****NEWS FLASH: This just in. Gabriel McDowell has dreamed, for all of his eight years, to be on the news. This is the first and only time that his beloved mother (or anyone else for that matter) has ever heard of this lofty dream. More tonight at 6!****

Trying not to laugh, I put a comforting arm around his shoulder and told him that they are interviewing lots of people and so he still may get that chance.

"I can guarantee they will not interview a sad little boy who is moping around all day." My little trick worked...for about a minute and then "Eeyore" returned.

After we explored all of the little buildings, the kids went to play on the play ground. I sat on a bench to watch. "Eeyore" dragged his sad little body and plopped down next to me. The News reporter was nearby. To Gabriel's delight she approached us.

"Did you guys ride the train today?" she asked.

"We did! We had a great time but my son was very sad because you interviewed my friend and not him."


"Well, then lets do that!" she said as she waved her camera man over.

"What is your name?"


"Did you ride the train today?"


"Mmmhm...was it fun?"


"Why was it so fun?"

"Because it's a train."

"O..kaaay...I'm going to ask your mom some questions now. OK?"

So the news lady interviewed me and while she did Drew comes and saddles up next to me. He starts talking in his boisterous way...

"My brother and I rode the train and it was so much fun! And did you know there was a boy and he was almost killed because he stood up on the train?!"

The camera immediately was lowered and the interview quickly wrapped up.

Gabriel was in much better spirits! He was so excited! I realized that there was one more thing he REALLY needed to know about....editing.

The news report was to come on the 5 o'clock news. We set the DVR...just in case!

Roll Sound:

The report came on starting with a reminder to the audience of the accident a few weeks ago. They have a brief comment from the owner of the park and cut to the train setting off! A comment from the engineer on how safe it all is and then my girl Sarah!!

Cue the wind machine:

"We were a little nervous but it all went well and was fun."

Cut to the train driving away and me turning to smile and wave to the caboose though it looks like I'm waving goodbye to the audience.

End scene.

"Give me the number to the news station." a very grim and serious Gabriel said while pounding his fist into his hand. "Either give me the number to the news or the number for the police."

"Aw buddy! They edited you out. I'm so sorry!"

"I need to call them."

"Well, honey, you can't just call and they have already played the piece. Sweetie I'm sorry but that's why I wanted you to know that sometimes that happens."

He started to cry mad hot tears. "How could they lie to a little boy?!" he asked.

"They didn't lie. They never said you would for sure be on."

Sniffling, red faced and fighting back tears, "Well, the next time I'm ever interviewed I'm going to make them promise me that they will show it!"

Eeeeend scene.

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