Copyright 2000 by T. Sheil & A. Sheil All Rights Reserved

Running Trains with Fat Ralph

A humorous poem about a true episode

Running Trains with Fat Ralph

Oh, we're going to Fat Ralph's tonight

We're going to have some fun

To run HO on a two-track pike

Now that the scenery's done


Fat Ralph says his layout's fine

From wiring to lineside shacks

He says it's the best darn HO pike

That ever had double tracks


Well, Fat Ralph has a GG1

A Pennsy fan is he

That's okay, but it'll outdone

By an EL F3 AB


Boogana's coming with his CNJ's

I'm packing my Lackawannas, too

Crazy Joe has the B&O

And Ralph has B.O., too!


Fat Ralph said his layout was fine

We took him at his word

But when we see what a job he's done

It looks outright absurd


The track swerves left and the track swerves right

It goes all over the board

Grading is awful, and the switches are a fright

It's a layout to be abhorred.


Fat Ralph wants to show off his GG1

And his brand new smoothside car

He sets it on the track, and it goes "clack clack"

But it doesn't go too far.


The GG1 falls down on its side,

The smoothside soon does follow

Careening into a lineside shack

Ralph's glad those shacks are hollow


Ralph tried to make it run again

To prove he's a scale man

He turns the throttle and off it goes

Derailing once again.


Boogana steps in with an F3A

In Jersey Central Blue

But the curves are tight, a flex track fright

And off the rails it flew.


Now comes Joe with an 0-6-0

It can take a twelve-inch curve

But Fat Ralph's track is a bumpy road

And off the track it swerved


Mallet Mike came to save the day

His four-wheel Porter to go

It jumped the track at the second curve

That wasn't much of a show.


We can't run trains at Fat Ralph's tonight

`cause the track is curved too tight

Flex track's too much for Ralph to use

But sectional should be right.


We can't run trains at Fat Ralph's at all

His pike is no delight

We'll have to wait til he buys snap track

And gets those darn curves right!

We were all about 15 or 16 years old at the time.  We were so angry at Ralph that we made up this song:

(To the tune of "For he's a jolly good fellow!")

Fat Ralph rolled over the Roundhouse

Fat Ralph rolled over the Roundhouse

Fat Ralph rolled over the Roundhouse

Until he crushed it flat

Because he is so fat,

He crushed the roundhouse flat,


Fat Ralph rolled over the Roundhouse....

Ralph managed to irk several of us back in the early 70s, to such a degree that 27 years later it is still fun to make light of his foibles.  Last time I saw him was a chance meeting at a gas station while passing through Jersey City in 1984.  Fat Ralph wasn't fat any more!  But he was still Ralph.  And Ralph, wherever you are, fat or not - you earned it, brother!

Fat Ralph's not fat any least insofar as the last Ralph sighting in 1984.......but somehow the interceding years saw the rest of us increase in girth.  You have to love the irony!

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