Originally Published: October 9, 2018 7:09 p.m.
I have written before about building a miniature town and referred to John, a friend of mine, who was planning a diminutive settlement in his basement. What started out as a fun project in his mind has turned into a major real estate development consisting of the town, Joyful Bliss, and its suburb Gopher Gulch, an Indian village and a military outpost.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the 1870s joyful burg of … Joyful Bliss. John explained to me that the name of the town is highly appropriate since anyone who doesn’t thoroughly enjoy living there can exit at the first opportunity. In fact, there’s a train leaving (and arriving) twice a day. So far, more citizens-to-be have arrived than malcontents who have left. Since he doesn’t expect any disputes (even though everyone is armed), there is no court house and no Office of Conflict Resolution. And there’s no cemetery since no one has died of natural causes or otherwise since the town was founded several months ago.
My attention was riveted on John’s civil engineering expertise since he has designed and created every structure himself. Except for the horses, people and livestock, almost nothing has been purchased from a model train store.
The mountains are rocks from his backyard, and the general terrain is supplemented with sand and dirt from around the house. He painted the rivers. He made trees from coco fiber basket and dowel rods, and all the buildings are made from thin plywood, dowel rods and balsa wood sticks and were cut on his radial arm saw. Small wood pieces were fashioned with a very small hand saw.
He’s painted the buildings and their windows and doors in realistic detail using water colors and colored pencils. He made the teepees in his Indian village from cloth and Gorilla glue.
Joyful Bliss, itself, contains a livery stable, a blacksmith shop, a train station and ticket office, two saloons including Big Nose Kate’s brothel, a sheriff’s office, a hotel with restaurant, a bank, a general merchandise, meat and drug stores, a print shop, doctor’s and dentist’s offices, a church, a school, a saw mill, a theater, cattle stock yards and two stand-alone out houses. Oh, and a new housing development with three finished homes and one currently under construction.
That’s the good news. John’s little basement world is delightful, but I have warned him that foment is lurking. Not all residents will remain joyful or blissful. There will be shootings, lynchings and protests, especially if he ever decides to appoint a judge named Kavanaugh. I predict he’ll need a cemetery within weeks.
Furthermore, I’ve checked the map for towns surrounding Joyful Bliss. Within one day’s ride are communities called Beggar’s Notch, Grizzly Patch, Black Bart’s Burg and Gallows. These names cannot be accidental.
When I ask John about who collects taxes and does all the financial accounting, he becomes somewhat vague about who’s responsible for funding town services and purchasing municipal assets. In my opinion, here is fertile soil awaiting the seeds of corruption.
John is a nice guy who enjoys a retirement that has been peaceful. So far. Unfortunately, his entertaining little pastime of providing accommodations for folks from the pages of history may turn his quiet, suburban basement into a multi-cultural, multi-generational and multi-century war zone.
With some trepidation, I await to read newspaper headlines screaming from Dewey about danger, destruction and devastation.
John, why couldn’t you have taken up a safer hobby … like lobbing hand grenades?
To comment on this column, email email@example.com.