WR&N Mark V

When my second wife asked for a divorce, I fell into a deep, black pit from which I've never fully recovered. It conjured memories of my first divorce: all I wanted to do was get as far away from where I was as possible. Back then, it was easy to sell the house: I'd flipped it, and it was worth twice what we'd paid for it. This time, thanks to a massive real estate slump, my condo was worth substantially less than the mortgage balance. I was stuck there.

So I tried to make the best of things. Alone in my home, I lost myself in my modeling. My first thought was to expand the WR&N IV to completely fill the second bedroom.

The plan was appealing, but it had some intriguing scenes I wanted to enlarge, so I came up with the bold (read: insane) notion of completely filling the living and dining rooms with a monster layout. After all, I was single and as sure as hell had zero interest in changing that status. What did I need a living room or a dining room for?

First I modified the condo walls—strictly against Association rules—and began assembling an enormous grid of steel two by fours. I'd gotten more than half of the benchwork completed when I received word that my WR&N IV was chosen for an NMRA national convention tour—in the midst of my divorce, no less! Somehow I had to cram several busloads of people into a bedroom having space for maybe five or six people at a time. What should have been icing on my Great Model Railroads cake was instead an utter nightmare.

Not long afterward I suffered a nervous breakdown, an experience entirely impossible to forget because it took place right after 9-11; my life had collapsed much like the World Trade Center. I began a "purge," destroying everything that defined me as a creative person: I threw out thousands of photographs, hundreds of hours of videos, paintings and drawings, and all of my modeling, including both layouts. I literally filled a dumpster four times over. What little remained I gave to Rick Spano for use on his Sceniced and Undecided.

Consequently, no photos of the WR&N V exist—and probably just as well.

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