Model train collectors have reason to cheer. Greenburg Shows will hold an auction at the Sykesville-Freedom District Firehouse on Saturday. You will have an hour to preview the day's selections, starting at 9 a.m. The auction will begin at 10 a.m.
One of the numerous items on display will be a mint-condition collection, on consignment from the original owner, of large, old "standard gauge" (1900-1930) Lionel trains.
"The collection is from a collector in California," said Joe Armacost of Greenburg Shows. "It's a great find for a collector. It's not often you find a whole collection from the original owner, and this one told me that when he first saw the set he thought it was from Santa. It was there under the tree when he came down on Christmas morning. It's all in excellent condition, with original boxes."
If you already have a set and are looking for something a little different to add to your display, check out the "military loads" model set of four flat cars complete with a tank, spotlight, gun truck and other military paraphernalia. Or perhaps you'd like the framed original artwork for the box and posters of "Working on the Railroad" from a retired Lionel executive's personal collection.
All of these, and much more, from the inexpensive to the impressive, will be on display and up for sale in what is perhaps the most engaging form of shopping there is -- the auction.
Greenburg Shows auctioned the price record-breaking model train set several years ago -- $23,000 for a rare sales representative's demo set called the "Boy's Blue Set." But beginner hobbyists will be happy to know that model train sets can be reasonably priced, and price guides -- which show price ranges based on condition and rarity -- will be available at the auction.
"Collecting trains doesn't have to be expensive," Mr. Armacost said, "many of the items are quite common. They're often in great condition because many families have the tradition of setting up the layout just for Christmas, so they're not tossed around outside or anything like that. It's just a great hobby for most of the people who come to our shows."
The auctions of Greenburg Shows grew out of the enthusiasm of hobbyists and collectors for model train exhibitions.
"Our founder, Bruce Greenburg, played with [model] trains when he was a young boy," Mr. Armacost said, "and after earning his doctorate in political science, he took it up again as a hobby. Then he started publishing literature that was no longer available to collectors, catalogs, maintenance information, parts lists, things like that. As his interest in the history of model trains grew, he started documenting and publishing the history and collections.
"Eventually he started publishing books directed at the toy train market, and that grew into the shows and auctions. We are now owned by Kalmbach Publishing Co., the world's largest publisher of toy train periodicals."
Linda Greenburg, Mr. Greenburg's wife, became president of Greenburg Shows when the company got started and remains in that role today.
Whether your interest is simply to enjoy the model sets and auction, or to add that previously elusive piece to your collection, this auction promises something for everyone in the family.
For information on the show or sets for sale call Greenburg Shows at 795-7448.
* What is more delightful than the happy sound of children at play?
Perhaps the happy sound of children joining their pastor in the blessing of a playground built just for them.
Last Wednesday and Thursday, the children of Messiah Lutheran's preschool nursery program did just that, concluding the ceremony with throwing handfuls of grass onto the colorful play set, shouting "Let it Grow!"
"We thought it would be a great idea for children to bless the play set," said Pastor John Morrill, who wrote the prayer for the occasion. "We took out each class and gathered in a circle around the playground. I said a prayer with the children, they responded when I said, 'Let all God's children say," and threw grass when I said, 'Let it Grow!' "
After blessing their play area, the children scrambled through balloons in their haste to slide on the slides and make faces through the windows.
The new play set, built by parishioner Joe Urban, is surrounded by mulch spread by parishioners and parents of the program's children. It may soon have a boat on which the children can play Peter Pan and other nautical games.
"Mr. Urban's uncle may donate an old boat to the church," Pastor Morrill said. "We'll take out anything children shouldn't touch, and make it safe for them. We think that will be a great touch."
St. Joseph Catholic Community has reached its 125th birthday this year, and will have a celebration that would be the envy of any 4-year-old.
At 12:45 on Sunday, classic cars and a horse and buggy will lead the "Journey of Faith" from the original site of the church on Sandosky Road in Sykesville to its present home along Route 26. The journey will conclude with a groundbreaking for a larger church.
Everyone is welcome to join the congregation. In fact, you may consider yourself invited.
"We've sent out invitations to other congregations in the area, not just Catholic, inviting them to join us," said Ed Allia, one of the planning committee members.
"We've heard from most of them that some of their members plan to come. We're hoping that many of the members who have moved away and joined a new church will come back for the day to be part of this. It will be an interesting program and a lot of fun."
At 2 p.m., after the "Journey of Faith," the Rev. Ted Cassidy will lead a prayer ceremony with hymns. Prayers and hymns from the past will be included, so today's congregation will have a taste of what masses were like for the founders of the church -- and even their own parents. Until relatively recently -- in the 1960s, after the controversial Vatican II meetings -- Masses were said in Latin, which may come as a surprise to those too young to remember the ancient prayers.
At 3 p.m., the congregation will go to the parking lot for the groundbreaking.
"We've asked each family to bring a rock, decorated, to place in the hole," Mr. Allia said. "The rock symbolizes that family's contribution. This way, the church will be built on the rocks of the congregation and everybody has a chance to give their piece to the future."
A buffet supper afterward will feature pit beef, accompanied by dishes brought by attending families to share.
Anyone wishing more information, or who would like to attend the supper, should call 795-7838.