It’s Alive! The NEW Online TCA Directory
(special thanks to Young Frankenstein)
By Carol Redman McGinnis, TCA# HE 95-41066
Once upon a time, in the opening days of TCA, the first TCA Directory was published. As the informal group of men gathered and talked the need was seen for a quick, easy way to contact each other. Where did they live, what did they collect, and how can we visit them? So, after a short two and a half months of existence, the Directory was born. Yes, it was “Alive!” Simple type, printed on copy paper, and had a copy paper front and back cover. Does anyone know who drew the cover picture of a train? Was it Lou?
There are a few of you who have seen this splendid publication. The pages were created on a typewriter at the home of Lou Redman, Secretary-Treasurer, who lived at 225 Harrison Avenue in Avalon, Pennsylvania. President Burton Logan is listed as Edaville Railroad Museum in South Carver, Massachusetts! And Vice President Evan Middleton lived at 5017 9th Avenue in Los Angeles “43”, California. There were 4 Directors: E.P. (Ed) Alexander, Douglas Bourner, W.C. (Bill) Krames, and Don LaSpaluto. These guys lived in Yardley, Pennsylvania; St. Louis, Missouri; Yardley, Pennsylvania; and Bellaire, Long Island, New York, respectfully.
Collections listed included Tinplate, Catalogs, Old Trains, 1 gage, O gage, 2 7/8 gage, 2 gage, Standard gage, all types of Toy Trains, Pre-WW1, Cast iron, Pull, Wind up, Trolleys, Live steamers, Interurbans, Accessories, Antique trains, Copper, Brass, Chrome, Litho, and “what have you!”
Doug Bourner included “If in St. Louis plan on dinner and evening at my house.” So much information and so many interpersonal relationships were created by these simple pages! They were listed on a short 14 pages and had 65 names contained within. In Redman’s Treasurer’s Report from Jun, 1957 the cost of the directory were calculated at about $31, which includes ½ of the postage costs.
By 1956, just one year later, the Directory expanded to 116 names and included phone numbers (enumerated as LInden1-0421 for Lou Redman, notice the letter prefix). It’s really kind’a funny, as I remember my phone number as PO1-0421! It must have changed in 1956 when we moved from Avalon to Ben Avon! The cover graduated to colored bond paper. There are at least two colors, light blue and tan. Do you have one that’s a different color?
The 1957 Directory came with a bright tinplate Orange crackle cover. Within the pages Lou has hand written the TCA numbers. You can see how President Logan got C-1 (later renamed CM for Charter Member) Vice President Middleton got C-2, and Sec/Treas Redman got C-3. From there the charter member numbers were assigned alphabetically, so you can see Richard Little is C-34. Note that William Loew is 57-170 with the year of acceptance into TCA followed by sequential numbering. By the 1964 Directory the TCA number was added in.
53 years later in 2008 the last in the series of TCA Directories was published. This publication came filled with essential information for the discerning member. The TCA Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws, Policy Book, Strategic Plan, Alphabetical Listing, Geographic Listing, Numeric Listing, Notes pages, and Advertising. Many would read through its pages when it arrived with the same anticipation as the Quarterly. While, of course, others would throw it away.
There were 624 pages filled with information and details. Of those 300 pages were addresses, phone number and emails of members, with at least 90 listings per page. That works out to be more than 27,000 members. The job of keeping this document up-to-date was in the hands of Tim Stier,
So, here we are in 2022. 68 years and so many details are developing so fast. There have been almost 76,000 TCA members in these 68 years. Years ago, when TCA published a Directory every year it was quickly realized that as the book was distributed it was already out of date. This became more and more evident each year. Folks moved, changed phone number, changed email address, even changed name.
The TCA Directory is now available online. As members update their personal information it is uploaded and available immediately in real time. Chris Allen, TCA’s Internet & Technology Chair, recently shared on the TTML * (Toy Train Mailing List): “To access it login into your TCA account via the Member Dashboard. At the Dashboard (you can) pay your dues, print a lost membership card, update your personal information, and view the Member Directory.”
So, the control is in your hands. New phone number, new email, change of address? Add them into your online profile. It will be instantly changed and reflected in the Directory. Each member has the option of having/or not having their email, phone number, and/or full address able to be viewed by other members.
The search features are evolving and will change as new features are added. Right now, you can search by member first or last name, by Division, by Country/State, or by Member number. There is a feature that you can then sort by last name, number, or location. The next iteration will have a nickname included in your member profile. So if you go by Chuck, or by your middle name, or by Sparky (clearly a nickname) this will be searchable.
Try it I think you’ll like it! It is a vast improvement over the old phonebook Directory version. I’ll be the first to admit, I dearly miss the printed version. But, there are major advantages of the new online directory. If you use a smart phone or pad, you carry the Directory with you wherever you go.
Chris continues by adding “This will be a big plus for TCA Division Secretaries and Meet Chairs. With any smart phone or pad they can log into the website and check member status. We believe that the new Directory is a huge improvement over the old and this is only Phase I of the project. We hope to get funding for some great ideas for Phase II next fiscal year.”
What does the future hold. When you get your 8-ball or your crystal ball reading please let me know.
*Editor’s Note: TTML may be unfamiliar to some members. This group has been online serving TCA and general toy train community as a public outreach since 1996.They celebrated their 25th year in 2021. There is an ioGroup that you can join at Your Groups by searching for “toytrains”. You can set up to get daily or weekly eBlasts that have topics of interest related to operation, collections, conventions, museums, displays, and so much more. They also meet twice a month on Sunday nights at 8 PM EST. The ZOOM meeting is led by Chris, who joins in on MST (Mountain Standard Time). We talk for about an hour about just what suits our fancy. Sometimes there’s an agenda that Chris shares in a Sunday afternoon email, sometimes it’s open to anyone who has a question, wants to share something they just picked up, and we run things from there. Chris sends out an email with a unique ZOOM link, so contact him directly at [email protected] to get on the list.