HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Whenever she feels the earth rumble, Suzanne Hemingway rolls out the red carpet.
Hemingway welcomes strangers just passing through on trains moving through downtown Ashland several times a day.
“It is so exciting,” she said. “It is like you’ve never seen it before.”
Hemingway holds a soft spot for everything trains big and small. She is owner of, or rather, the conductor of Tiny Tim’s Trains and Toys in Ashland.
“It is a comfort rather than being a noisy inconvenience,” Hemingway said of the loud locomotives.
Inside Hemingway’s store smiling customers find a knowledgeable owner.
“Welcome to my passion,” said Hemingway. “And if you look at my sign outside it says ‘Do not wander by. Come in reminisce.’”
She opened the spot two and a half years ago. Hemingway moves like a locomotive through her 1,200 square feet of tightly stocked space.
“There is a little bit of everything,” she said.
Hemingway shares a wide-eyed wonderment of miniature trains with her customers both young and old.
“If I have you in complete sensory overload then I have done my job,” said Hemingway.
This is no hobby though. Hemingway toils away 60 hours a week.
“It is just overwhelming. And so enjoyable. And addictive I guess?”
Did we mention this is her second career? After working nearly thirty years as a pharmacist, Hemingway switched rails.
“It is definitely a good vibe,” said Hemingway. “I don’t feel like I’m new. I feel like I have been here forever. It is home.”
Now, she is all aboard from engine to caboose.
“I love the artistic part. I love the design part. I love the history,” she added.
At this junction in life the end of the line certainly isn’t in sight.
“I don’t think I will retire,” said Hemingway.
Because for Suzanne Hemingway pure bliss is found when steel wheels move the ground beneath her feet.
“City lovers love city. Country lovers love the country. I love being by the railroad tracks,” she added.
If you want to meet Hemingway she is easy to find. She’ll be the one waving at the trains outside her shop located appropriately on South Railroad Avenue in the Center of the Universe.
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