the Right Track
Kenney, MD, chief of Surgery, Faulkner Hospital
and Model Train Collector
As Chief of Surgery for Faulkner
Hospital, Pardon Kenney,
MD, is in charge of many things: overseeing the operating rooms, ensuring
quality of care, leading the surgical residency education program, and
co-chairing the BWH strategic planning committee. But when the surgical gloves
come off and he exchanges the operating room for his home basement, Kenney
becomes the conductor of his extensive train collection, which includes more
than 400 model trains.
This month, Clinical & Research News sat down
with Kenney to talk about his hobby.
Are there skills in your career as a
surgeon that you apply to your hobby as a train collector, or vice versa?
If you ask surgeons
why they like to do what they do, we will say it is because surgery is
definitive, it takes care of patients, and we like to work with our hands. Working
on trains also involves meticulous work with your hands and eyes. You need good
hand-eye coordination. Working on model trains keeps my fingers nimble.
When did you start collecting trains?
I started in
the late 1970s. I was a surgical resident and a good friend of mine in the surgical
residency had gotten involved with collecting. Trains from our childhood 20
years earlier had suddenly become "collectible." The corollary of my train collecting is an
interest in big-time railroads-the full size stuff. There are a variety of train
museums throughout the United States that have managed to salvage these old,
historic locomotives. When travelling to various surgical meetings, I make sure
to visit the local train museum. The full-size trains are incredible testaments
to the manufacturing industry that once existed in the United States.
What goes through your mind when
setting up a train track?
I have an
excess of 150 locomotives and probably 300 train cars. It is pretty boring to
just watch these trains go round and round. So I try to establish routes for
the tracks that are complex and visually interesting. Perhaps it has a grade,
so it can go up in the air, loop itself and come down again, for example.
Do you have a memorable moment from
your years as a train collector?
ago, the Train Collectors of America had a convention in Providence, Rhode Island.
Part of the convention included taking local hobbyists on a train track layout
tour. I have a train layout in my basement and was asked to be part of the tour
circuit. This involved people from the convention coming to my house to look at
my train collection.
My kids had
set up a table on sawhorses in the garage to serve iced tea to guests. I
remember the ground shaking, and this massive bus appears in front of our
house. Sixty people get off and walk into our basement. They all have their
video cameras and are taking pictures. An hour later the ground shakes again,
and the second bus shows up. There were three busloads, so around 180 people
went through our house that night!
What do you most enjoy about
It's a hobby
that you do after you've had a long, stressful day. I go to my basement and watch
the trains go round the track, and that makes me feel better. I also enjoy
working on the train layout-putting in new track, adding a stop here, putting a
switch in. It takes my mind off what I've been doing all day.