The layout was about 15 or 20 percent completed when I had a chance visit from Lou
Sassi, a photographer who provided the bulk of the images for Kalmbach’s Great Model
Railroads. He was shooting Rick Spano’s Sceniced and Undecided, and Rick suggested
he have a look at my work. Within minutes of seeing my layout, he asked how much I
could get done in the next nine or ten months. I mustered as much confidence as I could
and assured him I’d hit the 80-90 percent mark. We shook hands, and I nearly fainted.
For the next several months I modeled at a fever pitch. During this time I was laid off from
work, which proved to be a double-edged sword: it substantially increased my modeling
time, but substantially decreased my capital. I also battled depression as my efforts to
find a new job were unfruitful. In the last weeks before the photo shoot, I worked nearly
around the clock (in the photo of me taken by Lou, you may detect my utter exhaustion).
The bad news, I only got a little more than half of the layout done; the good news, it was
enough for the feature, thanks to the high level of detail.
By this time I’d gotten a new camera, and went so far as to install a laser-etched pinhole
inside a lens. The results were hardly perfect, but they were sure a hell of lot better than
anything I’d achieved until then.
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