HOW MY FROSTY BAR ON MY AMERICAN FLYER TRAIN LAYOUT GOT INTO A NATIONAL COMIC STRIP!
by Mike Marmer, TCA# 92-35192 Winter 2023 e*Train
In 1991 I got back into American Flyer trains and my goal also was to one day build a layout. This, over the next 16 years was the main focus in trains for me. So, I purchased track, accessories and some Plasticville buildings. One of those buildings was a Plasticville Frosty Bar, because as it turns out, both my wife and I had foodservice back grounds.
I got started with building the layout, after a near fatal bicycle crash on the C&O Canal in 2007, but with no experience in doing a full fledge layout. I wanted not just the typical oval of track and a transformer, and I had no idea what I was doing. The building of the table, based on the girder designed by Lynn Westcott, would be 9 feet by 13 feet when done.
We were in Scranton PA in the mid 1990’s for a minor league baseball game, and that is how we came across Moo Moo’s. It was a 4th of July weekend and Moo Moo the cow was going to be at the stand on the night of July 4th. Moo Moo’s Ice Cream was a free-standing Ice Cream outlet much like a Frosty Bar, located on U.S. 6 north of Scranton, PA. The game on July 4th ended early and we headed over to Moo Moo’s for some ice cream and hopefully we would see Moo Moo the cow in action. Moo Moo was in action alright, as Moo Moo was done for the night, sitting behind the place with his Moo Moo head off, drinking a beer, the beverage perfected by 9 out of 10 cows everywhere. I was scarred for life seeing this!
This is the picture of the Frosty Bar before the layout.
The Frosty Bar ended up on the layout and it was starting to look like a real town. Plasticville phone booths are big on my layout (23 in total). Cellphones are forbidden in the town of the D&K Railroad. There is never a line of people waiting to use the phonebooths and there’s never a line to watch their favorite shows. WPLA has all the shows for all TV’s with rabbit ears in the town.
Baseball players from S Helper Field checking things out at the new business being build.
Frosty on the corner
I built many building kits using a lot of small pieces of wood that needed to be cut out, painted, and then assembled. Most of my kits are in the industrial area of my layout. I could not find commercial buildings for the retail area nor a railroad station that would fit into my layout. So, I turned to Plasticville for those buildings. But they look awful, with bland colors and very little detail. So, I painted these buildings, and they look really good. The Plasticville tollbooth is now painted along with the Frosty Bar in great detail. Putting some paint on these very plain buildings makes a big difference on the layout.
I do not have any pictures of the progress in the paint work, but it took hours to do so, with the detail to the stools, the soda jerks, the condiment trays, the cash registers, and Juke boxes on the counter. I believe they are Juke Boxes, so that’s what they are now, the red and yellow items. The floor is concrete color with a black and white checker floor inside the unit. I even added a S Scale counter person to the Frosty Bar.
The Frosty Bar, getting ready to get painted.
The finished Frosty Bar
The finished product in the kitchen for a photo shot.
The close up of the front of the Frosty Bar shows the detail of the paint work on the things inside. I used a very thin paint brush, touching up where a color bled onto a different color many times. The painting work was done in August and September and here’s the bar on the layout today, October 17, 2022.
THE FROSTY BAR IS THE STAR IN A NATIONAL COMIC STRIP NOVEMBER 4, 2009
I am a big fan of a comic strip called Zippy. I have been reading Zippy in the newspaper since the last century. Now it is one of those comics that is only available on the internet due to newspapers cutting down on how many comic strip they will print daily.
Zippy is a weird comic strip, and most do not get the humor. Zippy is a character who loves old roadside attractions, diners, especially in New Jersey, home to the most diners in the world, loves eating Hostess snack products like ding dongs, loves donuts, as he has been to Maple Donuts in York, PA many times, home of the Eastern Division TCA meet, 2 times a year. And his beverage of choice is Taco Sauce. Now that’s a lot to digest!
Fans of the comic strip will send Bill Griffin, the writer of Zippy, pictures of places around the world, in hopes that he will used their photos in a strip for a visit by Zippy. And then you get a mention in a panel, as that would be known as a Tip. I have four Tips for the comic over the years. And its not easy getting a tip strip with Mr. Griffin.
In 2009, I decided to paint my Frosty Bar, as I knew Zippy loves ice cream too and visiting ice cream stands. So I spent hours detailing the Frosty Bar and when it was done, I emailed Bill pictures of the finished product.
He wrote back, QUICKLY, wanting to use the photos in a future strip and I said that would be great. I have sent him pictures of many things over the years and I never got a bite. But a toy building made the cut! I think this is the first fictitious place Bill ever did in a strip. I would learn later, that Bill had Plasticville buildings as a kid, so I most of hit a right button with him doing this strip.
The “proof” of the strip with his message to me.
In 2012, my layout got into the Washington Post, when a cow on my layout fell over, after the first Earthquake to hit the East Coast and no damage was reported. Yes, there was, my cow fell over. That was front page news, well almost, Metro page. A story for another time, one day.
This strip has a number on it of 6260. Maybe it’s the strip number, as that would be 17 years of Zippy comics, since at least 1992. I believe the comic goes further back in time. The Plasticville newsletter in 2009 did put the print in a newsletter, as Bill said that would be okay.
I have a signed colorized print framed in the train room with 3 other Tip comics that I have credit for, however none of the others are train related. I am still trying for tip number 5.
A close up of the signed print framed.
Dr. Joe Lechner, TCA# 01-52673, added Zippy to a seat at the Frosty Bar!