Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Labor of Love

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Labor of Love

Article excerpt

"The feeling I got inside, being with my father, is something that's irreplaceable."

Ronnie Ward

MAYWOOD — In the basement of 887 Wyoming Ave., a miniature world has taken shape that is a tribute to the shared love of model trains Ronnie Ward had with his father, Ronald.

The locomotive winds through Coca-Cola Valley, a town made of Coca-Cola cans and the soda company's distinctive hourglass-shaped bottles.

Another train chugs along and passes Earfell tower, a replica water tower with mouse ears that used to stand at Disney Hollywood studios. Farther down the line, it passes Dumbo tower, where the big-eared pachyderm flies an unwavering concentric path.

You can't purchase tickets to these particular railway lines, at least not to ride. But on Sunday, you can visit the miniature world through which the trains run in the basement of the Ward household.

The train set was built by Ward in an attempt to recapture memories by recalling days in his childhood and hearkening back to a father-son tradition. From the time he was 5 years old, when his dad gave him his first train set, to his mid-20s, the two would visit train shows all over the country.

Today, Ronald Ward, who worked at the printing presses of The Record for 40 years, is bedridden and can't take his son to the train shows as he used to. So Ronnie is bringing the train shows to his dad.

Five months ago, Ward, 51, started building the model train set in the basement of the home he's lived in his whole life.

The set has nine trains running along more than 112 feet of track on two levels. The upper level has been dubbed Disney Plateau, and the lower level is Coca-Cola Valley. The landmarks vary from Dumbo tower to a scale replica of the Wards' house. Fittingly enough, the train set, which spans a 10-by-13-foot area, started with the first set Ward's father gave him.

"I started with one 8-by-4 board, which is the board that he got me and built me," said Ward. "I started with one circle one day. A couple of days later I did another circle. Then my uncle came by and brought another board by. Now I have to put more up."

With plans to double the size of the train set, Ward has decided on two things:

The first is that with the help of his family, he plans to carry Ronald down to the basement so he can see the train set with his own eyes. …

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