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He's Been Working on the Railroad--While Staying Home

July 13, 1986|Herbert J. Vida

Lloyd (Bud) Klaskin, 66, hardly looks his age and doesn't act it either. For example, he spends most of his time playing with his choo-choos. And hooking rugs. And collecting toy soldiers.

"Some people play golf," he said. "I play with my trains." All 10 of them, plus cable cars, streetcars, a ski lift, ice skating rink, oil well pumpers, gold mine and the revolving radar antenna in the miniature town he built.

Klaskin also has a word-flashing blimp, similar to the Goodyear model, floating above his township. An airplane, too.

It has taken Klaskin, a retired fabric printer, three years to build and put together Mount Charlotte, the miniature town named for his wife, in the 20-by-25-foot loft of their Mission Viejo home. Besides the HO gauge trains, the small town also has 100 homes, industrial buildings, a church with a wedding in progress, theaters, markets, trees, shrubbery, mountains and lakes.

And a Kentucky Fried Chicken store.

But the fun comes when he puts all 10 trains in motion on the 400 feet of track to travel over bridges and along winding routes while a recording sends out the clickety-clack sound of metal train wheels and blasts of the train air horn.

The final thrill is when he shuts the room lights and the town lights up.

"I'm a born baby," said Klaskin, wearing his engineer's cap and smoking a pipe. "Most kids had a train, but most of them also got tired of them. I didn't." He has been a train hobbiest since his discharge from the Army after World War II.

Nor has he tired of building his town, still spending about an hour a day in the loft. He is currently stringing telephone wire and building some San Francisco-style homes. Klaskin has built all of the structures, some of them from kits manufactured in Europe.

"Do you know," he said, "no one has a hospital kit. You really can't have a town without a hospital." He also wants to place a Ferris wheel in the town.

Klaskin has hosted a number of Scout troops, church, YMCA and YWCA groups and senior citizens as well as a number of individuals who have heard of his layout, some of them from the Train Collectors Assn. and Toy Train Operating Society. Klaskin is a member of both.

"If I had to say so myself," he said, "everything is beautiful and everything works; the lights, whistles, horns. I find it a fascinating hobby and it will never be complete."

When she drove into town after town, she was introduced as the First Lady of the Great American Race. To the other drivers in the recently completed cross-country run for vintage cars, she was known as Jennifer Goodheart, a good description of the bubbly competitor. At home, she's Ginni Withers, 42, of Anaheim.

Last year she won $25,000 for driving the oldest car to finish. This year, driving a 1907 Thomas Flyer, the same car that won the 1908 great race from New York to Paris, she finished second and didn't win a dime.

"But I was given the Spirit of the Event award," Withers said.

Business is business, so when Rebecca D. Knox, 30, and Tommy N. Barrett, 31, both of Huntington Beach, decided to get married on the Newport Trolley during its regular run from Corona del Mar to Balboa, the trolley made its regular stops, picking up passengers along the way.

The paying passengers mingled with the ring bearer, flower girls, minister and the rest of the wedding party, but the couple expected that sort of thing, because she's a regular trolley driver and he's the maintenance supervisor.

Knox was dressed in a turn-of-the-century blue gown and Barrett in trolley conductor's garb, quite a sight to passengers who boarded the trolley while the July 4 ceremony was in progress. The trolley was bedecked with flowers for the occasion.

One couple traveled along through the whole ceremony and were so taken by it they gave the couple a $20 check as a wedding gift. "We gave them a free trolley ride ticket," said the happy bride.

Every so often, said Mary MacDonald, 30, of Fullerton, women fliers of Ninety-Nines Inc. hold a novel flying fund-raiser at 4,500 feet from Fullerton Airport that takes them over Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and Anaheim Stadium.

In March, they raised $1,100 from the 150 adults and children, who were charged by the pound. "When we figured it up, the passengers weighed a total of 18,709 pounds and averaged 124.7 pounds," said MacDonald, spokeswoman for the sponsoring Fullerton chapter. In June, the group raised $800. There was a minimum of $5 and a maximum of $15 in both events.

"It's a good way for people interested in flying to get a taste of it," she said. "It would probably cost at least $30 to get that experience from a private flight."

And children, she said, really get a charge out of flying. "One kid cried to his parents that he wanted to go back up and fly over Disneyland again," said MacDonald.

He didn't.

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