Tribute to Ted
By Jack Ahearn
Note from Editor: Contributor Jack Ahearn is a putz house fan as well as a tinplate train fan. He came to know the late “Papa” Ted Althof through their common love of cardboard Christmas “putz” houses and toy trains. When Ted passed away in October, 2012, several putz house collectors were trying to decide what would be the most appropriate way to memorialize Ted’s work. Eventually, the idea of a putz (early-to-mid-1900s Christmas) village was accepted, and Jack volunteered to get it started. By now (February, 2013) Jack has a very nice tribute assembled, and he is anxious to share it with fellow hobbyists. - Paul Race, CardboardChristmas.com
Say the imaginatively stirring word ‘Putz’ and my mind quickly responds with images of...Christmas Gardens, Cardboard Houses, Snow Drifts, Dickenesque People, Vintage Fences and many other warm Christmassy thoughts of long ago childhoods. The sound of those picturesque images bring to our minds and hearts, another sweet sound; ‘Papa Ted Althof’
Like many of Ted’s friends and ‘fans’, I wanted to show the appreciation and debt I gratefully acknowledge as his just due for the kindness and warmth he shared. So, along with the pictures, which Paul has kindly downloaded for me (I do better with Putztography than Photography), I’ll share my ideas while making this winter wonderland. It was created with the thought and realization that it is ‘Inspired by, and Dedicated to; Papa Ted’.
Taking a cue from Ted’s love for the eight piece ‘printie’ set he received as a child in 1944 and described in his Site’s W.W. II section, I selected the upper level to be the location of ‘Pineville Village’. I had submitted photo’s of my ‘Pineville’ buildings, and he placed them within his 2010 Putz pages. He kindly associated their appeal to him with mine.
Also featured in ‘Pineville’ is a billboard announcing a Hollywood Sneak Preview at the ‘local’ movie house. My first thought was to feature the Lobby Poster from that movie with ‘Featuring Ted Althof’ superimposed. However, due to copyright and other infringement qualms, I took our good friend, Antoinette suggestion and simply ‘coded’ in what we all would understand to be Teds Hollywood movie.
The Park, on the lower level, was a second idea and more easily accomplished than my first plan of a monument in a town square. Somehow, a stone statue of Ted just didn’t seem warm enough. I wanted to embellish his memory with all that he represented... to us and children...of all ages.
What better would represent Ted’s love of all things Christmas than a family park bedecked with a glowing tree, holly wreaths, a skating rink and snow covered picnic tables?
As for my painted backdrop; I intended to create a bleak wintry sky...but as I brushed on the colors, I came to believe the warmth and glowing memories of Ted reflected onto my palette and magically...the clouds lightened and the warming sun shined brightly upon Pineville and the rest of his inspired Putz.
My five by four foot memorial to our Ted is not yet complete and likely never will be. Nor is my full understanding of a new hobby I found throughout the myriad pages of ‘Papa Ted’s Place’.
A year ago I opened those pages to my fellow Toy Train Operating Society members by penning and picturing a ten page introduction to Ted’s site in our cyber-magazine, The Side Track. While preparing that feature story, Ted sent me the sad news. Rather than being unsettled by that tragic news, it inspired me to complete his photo feature and pray he would live to see and accept it as a small representation for what he instilled in me.
Fellow Ted fans: Throughout 2013, I’ll keep these thoughts in mind and put them into action. Next Christmas, with Paul’s acceptance, I’ll present a more complete scenic tribute within... ‘The Putz that Papa Ted Inspired’!
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