Ottumwa Life Holiday 2018 - Page 22

people or perhaps important clients. For a comparably low price, someone willing to meet the train in Chicago could have a nice ride, complete with a multi-course dinner, from the Windy City to Denver. Million dollar charter yachts often offer the same possibility. T hebodo was in his far-less-expensive “man cave” down at the rail yard. The comfortable den also acts as an office. A long, long office. It’s an old passenger car, far bigger than a Greyhound bus. Normally, dozens of passengers can sit comfortably in that space. Today, it was just Dave and a magazine writer. Most of the train seats had been pulled out; there were random chairs, small tables, a couch, stacks of railroad magazines, old travel brochures and newspaper clippings, and a retail clothing rack with a few dressy coats and a warm jacket. Decorations included signs, some meaningful only to knowledgeable rail- road fans, others listing destinations far from Iowa. In a corner sat an old TV set, though even with the train sitting still, looking out the walls of windows seemed more fun than the latest reality show on TV would have been. Out in the yard, a cat or two prowled. Thebodo feeds them; they’re glad to see him. Thebodo’s most commonly used business tool is his cellphone. But Dave has a basic security system, too; while he’s at the rail yard, it simply dings to alert him someone is walking around the property. That came about after the time he looked out and saw people running across the rooftops of some of the rail cars. He interrupted them abruptly, he said. They were college students filming a scene for a video project that their class was working on. After checking out their references, the railroad buff allowed them to continue — after he contacted his insurance company, which had them sign waivers. "Dave's man cave" is a 40-passenger rail car re-purposed for the casual comfort of one man. Decor includes conversation pieces from in and around trains. An example is this sign, which originally hung in the United Kingdom, probably England; it somehow found its way onto a rail car purchased by Rail Merchants International, a train car that had never left the continental United States. “Hollywood loves trains,” he said. That’s the other part of his train hunting business. He’s found and purchased trains for the latest Lone Ranger film, for Transformers III and for The Italian Job. For that heist movie, he bought two railcars. One sits in Fairfield; the other was sent to a sound stage in Hollywood. If you’ve seen The Italian Job, maybe you remember the Austin Minis used for an extended chase scene. One of their plans included an escape scene in which the small, fast automobiles were chased until they raced into a railroad car where they were able to hide the sports cars. “They drove them right up onto the train through this door,” Thebodo shared. “Isn’t that great?” Check out Dave Thebedo's world at www.railmerchants.net or contact him at caboose@railmerchants.net or 641-472-2020. This caboose could become a house. Coal Palace Cafe & Books Real Not Fast! Fresh Food Made In-House • Coffee • Espresso • Specialty Sandwiches • Breakfast • Wraps • Lunch Specials • Sides • Soups • Desserts 641-814-8700 Call-In Orders Welcome M-F 8a-3p • Sat 8a-1p 226 W Main St, Ottumwa