Tuesday, December 7, 2010

John Specce of Oyster Bay Railroad Museum

John Specce and Jolanta Zamecka
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Jolanta and I wanted something really festive in our display window for the holidays. We have approached John Specce, President of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum and a neighbor in town. John set up for us a small oval layout (gauge O for the initiated) with a Diesel locomotive and a few cargo cars. As a finishing touch he sat a Santa with two cute mice in one of the cars, long tails and all. Children of all ages stop by our window and gaze at the train. We love sounding the horn for them; it feels rather special.

Oyster Bay Railroad Museum, located at 102 Audrey Avenue in Oyster Bay, collects and preserves Long Island railroad artifacts with the historic Locomotive #35, one of two steam locomotives on Long Island, among them. The museum also displays signaling equipment, signs, station master's desk with an old telephone and telegraph, railroad workers' uniforms and hats, and many other items.

The museum is open every weekend between 12 pm and 4 pm. It is well worth a visit on any weekend, but it is even more so this coming Saturday and Sunday, December 11th and 12th, when the museum hosts the Holiday Express event with special attractions.

John Specce grew up in Kew Garden, 500 feet from the Kew Garden station and with the family's third floor apartment allowing a full view of the passing trains. The trains fired John's imagination. The interest was kept by his parents who used to magically transform John's small room into a train kingdom every Christmas night.

After moving to Oyster Bay in the 70's John used to take his lunch break at the station to watch the trains arrive and leave Oyster Bay. Mill Neck station was another great watching place, he would bring his young sons with him there. Even today John may hop on the train to the city, walk to Grand Central, and take a train on a line he had not yet explored.

One day John attended a presentation about the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum organized by one of the civic communities in Oyster Bay. He embraced the organization and its mission. He is now its President and an acting administrator. All the staff members on board of the museum are volunteers devoting countless hours to preservation, reconstruction and education in all matters related to local railroads. The worthy organization welcomes members and volunteers, accepts donations and sponsorship.

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