In modeling the building as it was in 1950, I noticed that there was a large plate glass store window on the right side, ground floor. What sort of business might have occupied such a prominent space? I learned that among other things, the building had been home to a barber shop. What a coincidence! Several years ago I purchased some painted figures on eBay: a barber with his mirror, chair, sink and even a client! At the same time, I also bought an HO scale pool table and rack, with a pool shark bending over to make his shot. Hmmm. Which should it be? A barber shop? Or a pool hall? Since the structure sits right on the edge of the layout, it was an ideal location for either of my miniature businesses. But which one? Aha! Robertsdale was a small country town. Businesses often offered a range of products and services. The Company Store, for instance, also had a gas station fronting Main Street. Why not a barber shop and pool hall combination?
And so the idea of Bubba's Barber Shop and Pool Hall was born! Bubba was the name of my daughter's gray tabby, and since all the grandchildren had their names on various structures around the layout, I decided that Bubba deserved similar recognition.
Inserting the barber shop/pool hall into the model was trickier than I thought. There were number of internal supports and braces that had to be worked around. I built up a box from .020 styrene sheet, leaving the ceiling off. A floor of grooved styrene was cut to fit and painted to resemble wood. A quick search on Google found some vintage wallpaper that was downloaded, cut to size and glued to the walls with the same scrapbooking adhesive from Michael's that I used on the company office building next store. The barber's chair, sink, mirror, and hot towel steamer were cemented in place with Walther's Goo. On the other side of the room I affixed the cue rack to the wall and the pool table and player to the floor, also with Goo. A Tichy door from the scrap box was glued to the back wall for access to the bathroom.
A removable ceiling was cut to sit on top of the shop and hold a pair of miniature 1.5 volt bulbs for lighting. I bought an inexpensive AA battery holder and a mini-SPST throw switch from Radio Shack for around $5, glued the holder in place, and wired the two bulbs in parallel. Since each of the bulbs has a current rating of 40 ma, the parallel hook-up pulls a current of 80 ma. The switch was installed to save the battery for visitors who want to see the interior of Bubba's shop.
The mini-bulbs were inserted in a pair of green shades and suspended over the barber chair and the pool table. With the lights dimmed over the layout, Bubba's Barber Shop and Pool Hall casts a warm glow from the plate glass window, inviting passers-by to stop in for a shave, a haircut, or a quick game of billiards.
Bubba's is fictional, of course, but even though I model the East Broad Top as it was in 1950, there is still room on the layout for a little tongue-in-cheek humor. That's what makes model railroading fun for me; at the same time, it creates little pockets of interest for visitors to enjoy and remember.