I didn't have a normal childhood. My father was a US Army officer and we lived in different places every two or three years. I was always into cars and other vehicles. My Uncle John told me how when I was 3 they had to follow the city bus and stop at each stop with it because I like buses and watched the passengers get on and off. My early passion was Matchbox cars. When I was six, we lived in Dayton, Ohio and my father taught ROTC at the U of Dayton. We would go to the Base Exchange at Wright Patterson AFB and there was a rotating display of Matchbox cars on the camera counter. Every trip I was allowed to pick one out.
From there we moved to Izmir, Turkey. In the 1960s the Turkish economy was poor and there was nothing to buy locally. We depended on the US military PX for our every need. Toys were scarce, so I learned to take care of my things. A good life lesson. There also was no TV, so I read a lot and played with my imagination. We depended on my grandparents back in the US to send us things. That's how I got my Matchbox cars!
My father got assigned to Seoul Korea and my mother, sister and I went to New Jersey to live near my grandparents for the year in 1968. I was 10 and that was the year Hot Wheels came out. I was instantly hooked. And this was also my first exposure to model cars. I had exposure to the American car scene for the first time and soaked in the culture! I did custom paint jobs on my Matchbox and Hot Wheel cars and started building models. We lived near a Chevy dealer so I believe my first glue kit was a 1969 Chevy Impala SS.
In 1969 my father got assigned to Pirmasens, Germany so we moved there. We lived on the US Army Post and the German economy was much more like that in the US than Turkey was! They even had Kellogs cereals in the market! And Hot Wheels, Matchbox cars and models. They did play a funny trick on us though... when we arrived a US dollar was worth four German Marks. The economy changed and suddenly our dollar bought less than two Marks! The cost of everything local had effectively doubled! Revell kits were 20 Marks, which was a bit more than $10 US, back when US kits sold for $2! So my local purchases were few and far between. The PX never got good model kits. They often had Airfix and sometimes Lindberg kits. I learned to love the Airfix 1/32 scale cars!
Then I discovered Model Car Science Magazine in the PX book store. I sent for the AutoWorld catalog and that became my world! I had half the catalog circled. Every time I had enough money from my jobs of mowing lawns and washing cars, I would place an order for a kit or two and supplies. Those orders would take 3 months to receive., so there were times I had 3 orders out, all carefully marked on paper I kept in my catalog. I bought Duster and Barracuda annuals, The Simple Simon Thames Panel, the Scat City Funny Car, the AMT '53 Ford pickup and other iconic kits.
We did get back to the USA permanently in 1972. My father's last assignment was Fort Monmouth, NJ so we bought a house and settled in. He retired at the end of the Viet Nam war when the army was cutting back and offered incentives for officers to retire. Once back in the US, I went on a model car buying binge, and built right up to the point where real cars took over. I still had a few kits stashed and would buy a few on occasion. I had a 1:1 '56 Chevy so I bought the Revell kit and the AMT '51 Chevy for the six cylinder. Life did get in the way, and like many of us I got consumed by work, marriage and kids. And I still would buy occasional kits. I was collecting car brochures then and was big in the Mopar clubs, owning a '65 Barracuda and other neat cars.
Then in my early 30s I went on a business trip to Boston and found Scale Auto magazine in a book store. Man, I hadn't seen a model magazine in years. I stayed up nearly all night reading it cover to cover. In the back was a small ad to join the Tri-State Scale Model Car Club. I answered the ad, went to a meeting, and the rest is history!
Edited by Tom Geiger, 30 March 2013 - 06:03 PM.