Talk:Victor Shattock

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More Basement Memories

Ken Shattock posted the following, Jan 19, 2015:

Hi Everybody-- First off, THANK YOU for all the comments about my grandfather's live steam basement railroad in Oakland, CA. I realize this was not O-gauge, Lionel or whatever-- but it was something so different, so astounding, so marvelous shall we say, that I wanted to share it with all of you. Years ago, when my grandfather was addressing civic groups, clubs and whatever, he stated (even in the 1930's) that there were thousands of people nationwide who had model trains in their house. However, "the idea of STEAM engines hauling cars around a scenic railway in someone's home was totally unheard of" !! The various media got wind of this and wrote it up. Newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, Newsreel outfits, et al.

ALL of the BIG names in Model Railroading, NMRA included, have been in Vic Shattock's basement. Al Kalmbach, Linn Westcott, Bill Walthers, Rollin Lobaugh, Whit Towers, Bob Bast, John Allen, even Walt Disney-- have been in that old basement in the Victorian home in Oakland where I lived and where I was raised by HIM for the first 14 years of my life, as his own son!


The railroad was essentially in that basement from around 1930 to 1961. Vic did not own the house. He rented it for all those years.


On February 3, 1961 the LAST MEETING of the Golden Gate Live Steamers was held in Vic Shattock’s basement. The house had been sold and Vic and his family had to vacate and be out by April of that year. The railroad was dismantled and placed in storage for a while and later on certain locomotives and rolling stock & accessories were disposed of in various manners. This was a very sad ending to a live steam empire created by a very congenial man considered by some to be a genius in his field.


And now, on a personal note, I'll add this:

Maude Shattock, wife of Victor, died on February 9, 1961, due to a ruptured aorta. The last meeting of the GGLS at Vic's basement had occurred just 6 days earlier. The house had been sold and the family had to vacate by April. In addition, Vic had his hands full caring for and comforting his grandson Kenneth, who essentially lost his mother.


February-1961 was terrible for ME and the family. A steam railroad had to be dismantled. Where would it go ? We had to find a place to live. I was still going to school. I was in the 9th grade! Most of the locomotives were sold to interested parties. The rolling stock went to family members who wanted a couple of cars to have on display in their home! The accessories, turntable, etc got thrown out in the dump! Yes, true!

Today, I have his SP P-4 "Pacific" 4-6-2 # 2422. He built it in 1929 and it sits in a glass display case in my dining room! I also have the Caboose, built in 1925, and the Hopper Car and Harriman-type Coach. These are all 2 1/2-inch gauge...

BUT, I also have something else worth more than anything else: MEMORIES !!


By the way, Vic's oldest son, Ron (my uncle) was a whiz with electricity. It was he who wired up the block signal system and the motor and controls for the turntable. My grandfather built the signals (built everything) and Ron installed them and wired to the insulated track blocks. When I was about 11 years old, I built a model board for the layout to indicate block occupancy! Uncle Ron worked for Western Electric for 42 years-- I retired from the Bell System with almost 50-years. I took electronics in high school and college as well as serving as an Electronics Tech in the US Navy.. Hopefully, I can wire up my forthcoming O-gauge layout construction. (grin)


One last tidbit, guys... During Christmas of 1952 (I was SIX), Santa Claus brought me a brand new MARX 0-27 train set. I thought that was the greatest thing in the World!

I loved it and added more stuff to it! it was really FUN !

BUT, just a few feet below the living room floor was a STEAM railroad empire ! In closing, I hope you don't mind me sharing a few personal details!

Happy Railroading !!

KRK