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Clockwise from left: "I used to love traveling by train," says Bloom, as a train speeds past a passenger station. The farm is a tribute to my father-in-law, Mannie Shapiro. who was a produce
buyer for Wrigley's and Hollywood Markets." says Bloom, who has created vignettes representing different aspects of his life, around which his eight trains weave. "I don't want to think about how
much I've spent on this over the years," says Bloom (front), in the wonderland he built with the help of Tom Ferber (back), the owner of the former Train Center Hobby Store in Royai Oak.
which sold trains in its basement. At 14, Bloom convinced
Black's to hire him to set up trains for people who purchased
train sets but did not know what to do with them. "I made a
lot of money at that time," he says, and by the time he left for
the University of Michigan, he had three multi-level ping-
pong size tables with multiple trains.
"It was wonderful," he recalls. His mother, however, wanted
her basement back. "So I gave the trains to an orphanage, and I
didn't do anything with trains for more than 20 years," he says.
After college, Bloom entered the family auto-parts busi-
ness. In 1970, he started his OWII steel-processing business,
which he sold in 1999 before retiring.
His wife, Barbara, is the one who re-ignited his interest
in trains. "Around the time I was 40, Barb said to me, 'Every
time you see, hear or go by a train, you look like you have a
longing to be back with them,'" Bloom recalls.
Encouraged to re-embrace his long-lost hobby, he filled a
240-square-foot room in the basement of their former home in
Birmingham with trains and accessories, most purchased from
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• JUNE 2009 •
the now-defunct Train Center Hobby Store in Royal Oak. The
owner, Tom Ferber, continues to work with Bloom on his cur-
rent trains and with Barbara on her custom dollhouses. Many
additional train or village pieces were acquired in Japan and
Germany, where Bloom traveled often for business.
In 2006, the Blooms built their current home, where he
designed his own tables and layout and had them built into
the basement. "The first couple of years, I spent 20 hours a
week creating the scenery, towns and buildings and setting
the different vignettes that I wanted, planting the people in
different areas," Bloom says. "Nov I spend about six to eight
hours a week on it."
Each piece tells a story; and each story represents a piece
of Bloom's life, from teenage love at the drive-in to raising
children in what seemed like a simpler time. Today, Bloom
delights in sharing his creation with his three grown sons and
five grandchildren, who adore the trains — and whose names
appear in details throughout the vignettes.
It is, indeed, a wonderful world.