Seeing & Looking
Text and Photography by Jim Austin
Bill held up an HO train engine. On its cars, he put the Boy Scout oath that read: "To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight." We were touring Deltaville, Virginia, and chatting about two of Bill's passions, model railroading and the maritime museum.
An active member of the Rappahannock River Railroaders (RRR), Bill Goettle belongs to a group of model railroad craftsmen and enthusiasts. They tour and give presentations with their working O and HO setup inside a trailer. The setup includes a DIY tool for cleaning the small tracks. As Bill showed me the HO, O and G guage railroad city he called "The New Deltaville", he added props to parts of the realistic scale model.
Bill's day starts with physical therapy. At 82, his stories are like his trains, full of life and energy. A 350+ hour volunteer with the Deltaville Maritime Museum, Bill knows the history of the museum in detail. We saw a reproduction of the Explorer, Captain John Smith's 31 foot long, 22-inch draft shallop. We also boarded the F.D. Crockett, a 1924 buy boat named for its original owner Ferdinand Desota Crocket. This vessel is the last largest log boat built for power, constructed with nine logs that were shaped, fitted and fastened to form its hull. As a buy boat comes into port, its crew raise a black ball, so fishermen know to sell their catch and crops to the boat. Bill told us that crops included watermelons loaded into the vessel below decks.
Bill is a Army veteran, a mason, and a Scoutmaster for Troop 341 in Virginia. He helps Boy Scouts design and build wooden rowboats from scratch during Deltaville's Family Boat Week held each July. An avid sailor, he cruised from the Bahamas to Maine with his wife in two sailboats, an Allberg 30 and an Allied Princess 36 ketch. Bill's kindness and generosity were as sharp and strong as his experience. Conversing with him, I was reminded that staying sharp means looking out for your life long passions.
Photos and Writings by Jim Austin Jimages