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March 3rd- On the Shoulders of Giants- Part 5

posted Mar 3, 2017, 5:37 PM by Sue Line RailRoad   [ updated Mar 3, 2017, 5:38 PM ]

Today I want to share with you about another “Giant in the Hobby” is the late Andy Sperandeo of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Perhaps best known as the editor of Model Railroader Magazine, Andy Sperandeo was a fantastic modeler in his own right. Andy, when he was in the United States Army in the 1960’s, was a member of the regular crew on the famous Gorre and Daphetid with the great photography and scenery master, John Allen. Later he attended the University of Texas at Austin, Texas which is where I first meet him. One evening as I was climbing up the ladder at the Cat Mountain and Santa Fe Railroad of David Barrow in Austin, Texas, I heard a shouting match going on between David Barrow and Andy Sperandeo. I thought to myself “My God, what have I gotten into”. They were “discussing” a fine point of operation. Later I learned it was all in good fun, but from then on, I tried not to push Andy Sperandeo too far.

Andy Sperandeo loved the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad and built several accurately modeled Santa Fe stations.  He spent much of his career researching and building a model of a section of the Santa Fe Railway as it traveled through Cajon Pass in California, northeast of Riverside, in 1947.  The railroad was magnificent and ran flawlessly. Andy’s historical railroad models depicted the specific buildings and scenery of the time with track arrangements in which trains moved from place to place according to authentic timetables. Andy Sperandeo was a detail man.

Andy was a jovial outgoing man, but he had a quiet, modest side.  He spent a lifetime transforming scenes of sprawling splendor into small wonders. His boyhood interest in railroads evolved into a passion for reducing their massive place and time in history into meticulously detailed miniatures — from trains, track, buildings and streets to vehicles, landscapes, water-ways and people. He rarely mentioned his own railroad, but wrote extensively about others.

In 1979, Andy Sperandeo became an associate editor of Model Railroader. This was Andy's dream job. It doesn't occur often that passion and occupation come together like this. He authored hundreds of articles, columns and reviews for Model Railroader Magazine. Through his position, Andy Sperandeo had an influence on literally thousands of model railroaders. Take one look at almost any part of Model Railroader’s Milwaukee, Racine & Troy layout and you can see the influence of Andy Sperandeo. Track planning and operation were his forte.

He just loved trains.  Whether it was model railroading or real railroading he had a tremendous knowledge and lengthy experience which led him to be equally at home driving 12 inch to the foot locos or operating on N-scale layouts. He had a wealth of knowledge about the history of railroading and was always ready to share or discuss almost any subject. Andy Sperandeo had a great passion for detail both in his modeling and in his life. Andy Sperandeo could make you feel a scene as if you were there. You could taste, feel, smell the scene.

Once, Andy and I were on a private plane headed from Dallas, Texas, to Los Angeles, California. Everyone in the group knew I was afraid of heights and had a fear of flying. Of course, I was seated facing the tail of the plane and across from Andy Sperandeo. We took off from Love Field and headed right over the center of Dallas- Ft.  Worth International airport. It seemed like the plane went straight up.  When we leveled off, the hot summer Texas air left us with quite a bumpy ride. Andy spent most of the first part of the trip wondering if I would find an air bag or deposit my anxiety all over him. Luckily, I did not damage his outfit or our friendship that day.

Andy would always help fellow model railroaders and the more it felt they were “sincere” modelers the more he would help. Andy Sperandeo believed in the philosophy of “Teach a man to model, don’t give him a model.” Andy Sperandeo will be dearly missed.

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