The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Friday, May 3, 2013

Oh! Oh! Here's OO, Part 3: “Here’s OO again”

H. Temple Nieter was author of the very first article related to American OO gauge that was published in The Model Railroader (in volume 1, no. 2, February, 1934), “Oh! Oh! Here's OO,” which featured his beautiful scratchbuilt MU car models. A pair of articles were posted in this website in 2009 that looked at this article and the models featured, the series on those beginning here. And at least one of the MU cars still exists today.

Temple stuck with American OO for a lifetime, was a leader in the OO gauge community in his later years (carrying on extensive correspondence and selling [at cost, I suspect] a line of OO reproduction parts), and very notably had an article in Model Railroader in November, 1984 with a similar title, “Oh, oh! Here’s OO again.”

The short article includes photos of people and layouts familiar to regular readers here, including David Sacks and Pierre Bourassa, and other “OOldtimers” as well. From the article,
Few of you Model Railroader readers have seen roads in this scale, yet some thousands were built in the younger days of the hobby. By now [1984], only about 60 men remain true to it, unmoved by over-the-counter HO items….
Our die-hard U.S./Canada OOers, of decades standing, I dub “OOldtimers.” They were and are truly modelmakers, forced to become that before suppliers rose from their ranks. When production kits and parts did at last appear, no one disdained what suited their needs. Nostalgia recalls some of the early sources: Nason, Famoco, Eastern, j-c Models, Scale-Craft, Andresen, Thuillgrim, Zuhr, Graceline. Even Lionel OOed for 4 pre-war years. And the first two issues of Model Railroader (January and February 1934) spoke of O and OO but nary a word about HO….
This photo was the final photo in the article and is the only published photo I am aware of showing Temple Nieter. Note the coveralls for his Lake Lines railroad. The caption reads,
To MR readers Temple Nieter is perhaps the best-known OOldtimer, his by-line having appeared in the magazine often since he first wrote “Oh Oh! Here’s OO” for the February 1934 issue. Temp is an OOldtimer since 1932, is also a ham radio operator and enjoys working on and running equipment at the Illinois Railway Museum at Union, Ill.
And now for, as they say, the rest of the story. Nieter suffered a heart attack in January of 1984 and spent weeks in the hospital. He recovered, but ultimately passed on October 15, just before the article above was published. He did see the proofs of the article at least, but it is a bit of a shame they could not have published it in the February issue, exactly 50 years after the original article.

In re-organizing my letter archive (more here), the first big binder starts with the first letter I received from Temple Nieter in 1977 and ends with a very warm letter from his wife Dorothy that included his obituary. It is a memorable one, too, for how many obituaries have you read that began,
Temple Nieter, a neighborhood activist who fought for city improvements with calls to the city officials and letters to the Evanston Review, died Oct. 15 in his southeast Evanston home. He was 74.
Residents who dubbed him “the mayor of the neighborhood” called on him about problems concerning everything from street cleaning to sewers….
Mr. Nieter, a licensed professional engineer, was active in the electronics industry. He was in the process of manufacturing a life-saving device used by power line workers, and had invented another device to enable a paraplegic to use the telephone….
He was survived by his wife, three children, and five grandchildren. In the letter his wife mentioned that he often spoke of me! The OOldtimers of his generation were keenly aware that OO was a dying gauge badly lacking of younger people. As noted in the previous article (on a special high school graduation present I received) I hope this website is planting some seeds but at the same time, we all need to do our part to help more people know about this classic scale.

I will let Nieter close this “Oh, oh!” series with the final sentence of his last published article -- “Model railroading truly is fun; OOldtimers have known this for more than 50 years.”

Return to Part I of “Oh, oh!” series

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