Bits of Stone for June 3, 2012
Roberts remembered on cover of national Model Railroader magazine
Many local residents know Charlie and Mary Gene Roberts, their daughter Dawn (Mrs. Robert) Bailes and remember their son, Kent, who lost a valiant battle to cancer in December 2009 at age 52.
Kent’s model railroad layout is featured on the cover and in the centerfold story with seven pages of color photographs of the June issue of Model Railroader magazine. The publication is available at local stores.
A 28-by-32-foot HO scale model railroad layout, conceived and begun by Kent at his new home near Asheville, N.C., in 1997, was his third attempt at achieving his goal of a balanced operational layout.
Kent named his layout the Tennessee, Carolina & Coast but his inspiration came from the Tennessee Central, a 286-mile Class I railroad that ran east-west through the center of Tennessee and into Western Kentucky. The Tennessee Central went out of business in 1968 but some of its 80-year history is preserved at the Tennessee Central Railroad Museum in Nashville. Its slogan was “The Route of Personal Service.”
He established the layout by giving it a purpose. It represents a bridge route handling through traffic from Georgia and Alabama bound for the Carolina coast. The scene is set in East Tennessee between the years of 1968 and 1972.
Even non-railroad readers will enjoy sharing in the thought involved in building a layout with a specific purpose. Though we may not realize it, there are numerous model railroaders in Blount County. Kent got his start at age 4!
Kent picked a guitar and played in the Lamar Alexander campaign band in 1982 about the time he and Linda Courtney of Knoxville were wed. They have two sons, Will, 22, and Wesley, 20.
Though retired, Charlie is remembered as an outstanding basketball player at Walland High and Maryville College and as a referee in many athletic contests. Mary Gene is a retired dietician who was a close friend of my late sister, Margaret, also a dietician.
Not many of us realize the thought and planning which goes into a realistic model railroad layout. As a youngster, I had the interest but not the money. My son, Neal, has been more active but with six sons there’s not much time available. But there are people like Mike Davis who have outstanding layouts.
We wanted to share this national recognition of Kent with readers.
Postage stamps with state greetings offered on silver
The U.S. Postal Service has commissioned an interesting offering of reproduction of a 2002 (37-cent) postage stamp greeting from each of the 50 states, in full color on a base of .999 pure silver. The series resembled a post card greeting from each state.
We were told the silver ingot on each stamp weighs half an ounce which we figured by market prices today is worth about $15. Each of the collector stamps sells for $100 including printed materials and a collector’s wooden chest. Thus the 50 stamps on silver will cost about $5,000 per set, mailed at two stamps per month.
Joining in the enthusiasm of collecting gold and silver, the Postal Service is allowing the Hallmark Group to market 17,500 reproductions of those 50 stamps on silver for sale in a Greetings from America Collection at $99.50 per state. If Hallmark sells all 17,500 that should gross in excess of $85 million. We hope they sell and the Postal Service gets a good share of the profits.
The first 50 -state sheet of stamps was issued in 1976 for America’s bicentennial and showed each state’s flag. The second was in 1982 and featured the state birds and flowers; the third was the 1987 North American Wildlife stamps, fourth was the 1992 Wildflower stamps and the fifth was the 2002 for the Greetings from America issue. That series resembled a post card greeting from each state and was issued when stamps were 37 cents.
For more information, call 1 (800) 871-7578.
1900 To 2011 pictures changing times
The August 2112 issue of American History magazine lists some interesting changes in photography.
In 1900, the first year of production, Kodak’s fixed-focus Brownie cameras were popular with 250,000 being sold.
In 1960, a total of 2.2 billion photographs was taken, more than half of them of babies.
In 2000, Americans bought 1 billion rolls of film.
Kodak’s biggest foray into digital cameras since its initial 1888 fixed-focus point-and-shoot film camera occurred in 1975. That year Kodak produced an unsatisfactory crude prototype, eight-pound, toaster-size device. Fifteen years later the first commercially available digital camera, the Dycam Model 1, became available.
Soon after, Kodak produced its own line of digital cameras but misjudged how quickly consumers would abandon film, its bread and butter for 124 years. The company filed for bankruptcy in January.
In 2011, an estimated 80 billion digital photographs were make in the U.S. Of that number, 30 billion were taken with cell phones. Today, 250 million pictures are posted daily on Facebook.
Summary of world’s largest remains listed in Smithsonian Magazine
As a guideline, the Smithsonian magazine details the world’s largest remains found:
• Herbivorous dinosaur — Estimated at 100 feet long, weighing more than 73 tons and may have been even longer, stretching to 130 to 200 feet in length.
• Predatory dinosaur — A sail-backed animal 41 to 59 feet long.
• Flying bird — Roughly 6 million years old, it had a wing span of 23 feet. How a bird so large took off is a matter of debate but once aloft it was primarily a glider like vultures and condors.
• Frog — Found in a 70-million-year-old rock in Madagascar, it measured about 16 inches long and may have weighed more than 10 pounds.
• Arthropod — Hundreds of millions of years ago the earth was overrun with oversize arthropods which included spiders, scorpions, crabs, centipedes and barnacles. The biggest of all may have been a sea scorpion that may have been more than eight feet long. The 300 million-year-old bug has no modern equivalent.
Land mammal — Today’s blue whales are the biggest mammals ever. On land, mammals topped out about 37 to 23 million years ago in a group of hornless rhinoceros which looked like a rhino impersonating a giraffe. About 18 feet high at the shoulder, the hoofed animal could stretch its head 25 feet high.
Shark — Largest of these predatory fish swam 28 to 15 million years ago. A distant cousin of the great white shark, its size is calculated on its seven-inch teeth. Estimated to be 50 to 55 feet long, recent research indicates it could bite with a force of more than 11 tons, several times that of large dinosaurs.
Crocodile — During the age of dinosaurs, about 73 to 110 million years ago, they reached about 40 feet. An ambush predator and relative of modern alligators, they ate dinosaurs.
Dean Stone is editor of The Daily Times