EXCERPT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Of Beginnings and Endings

I have several times credited my grandfather for fostering my love of toy soldiers and history but since he died when I was quite young, much of the credit must go to his daughter, my mother. There may be a genetic element but since my brother got the musical side of him and little interest in toy soldiers there must be more. Definitely Mom went out of her way to get me the best toy soldiers she could on the clerk's salary that Dad brought home.

Some of what remains.
I still remember her dismay when she bought me my first castle st Christmas, a Marx Robin Hood play set, and discovered that the figures were unpainted and the walls were low with printed crenelations and no towers that figures could stand on. I still had fun with it and some of the figures, now painted took part in a game at Historicon a few years ago, but it was  nowhere near my brother's Crescent knights and his tall plastic castle with a drawbridge that worked (yes I still have his castle but I'm saving it for my grand nephew in hopes of diverting his attention from trucks!).

The following Christmas came the MiniMarx Knights and Vikings play set and while it was small (30mm) it was everything a boy could want, beautiful painted figures, working catapults, tall towers and years (ok decades) of fun.
An ad for the same.

And the point of all this? Well Mom was a wonderful person in many ways, fondly remembered by many for many reasons, and I am grateful for much, much, more than the books and toys and for the encouragement to do what I wanted and be what I wanted or change and adapt as I grew, decade after decade.

But this hobby has shaped my life and friendships and it stems from those early gifts of toys and children's history books and when we lay her to her final rest on Saturday, I will remember and honour and love her for that as well as the rest.


  1. Dear Ross,
    What a magnificent eulogy and tribute! At the end of the day, the best of what we have from those who pass on are our loving memories of how they impacted our lives. Clearly there was love in your words and your mother will live on in your memory because of that deep devotion. You and your family are in my thoughts during these difficult days.
    With sympathy,

  2. Quite a touching tribute to your mother, Ross. My condolences to you and your family during this time of bereavement.
    Best wishes,

  3. My deepest sympathy for your loss, Ross. At the same time it is entirely fitting to celebrate all the many things that she meant to you, and the ways that she influenced the patterns of your own life.

  4. I can only echo the sentiments of Jerry and Jon. That's a loving tribute to a what sounds like a wonderful and beloved mother. My condolences as well.

  5. A lovely and loving post, Ross. It made me teary-eyed. Thank you for sharing it and celebrate her and your memories of her.

    -- Jeff

  6. My sympathy to you and your family in this sad time , she sounds a wonderful mum , All the best Tony

  7. A very moving post Ross, I'm sorry to hear of your loss and will be thinking of you and yours on Saturday.

    Very best wishes, Brian

  8. I lost my mother to a car accident Easter Sunday 2014 and she took me to many historic sites in Canada for summer vacations while my Dad was on exercises and courses with the Canadian army and Cadets. Thank you for sharing a heartfelt message.

  9. Springinsfeld has left a new comment on your post "Of Beginnings and Endings":

    A very moving post, poignant yet full of future hope, the toy soldier legacy your Mum engendered still living on with you and with luck your grand nephew. My sincere condolences and best regards

  10. My sympathies, Ross. But I also envy you, given your wonderful memories of her. I loved my parents, but I have few good memories, and certainly nothing approaching what you've written. What you loved remains in your heart. Best regards always, Chris

  11. My condolences to you and your family.A most moving post and tribute to your mother.
    Take care

  12. Ross Mac,

    What a lovely tribute to you mother ... and every time you wargame you will remember her. I cannot think of a better way to keep her memory alive.

    I inherited my mother's artistic skills (she was an airbrush artist for Warner Brothers, and met Ronald Reagan when he was still a rising film actor).

    All the best,


  13. Memories are the best gifts.

    Send off your mom to the summerlands and build new memories with your nephew.


  14. A very moving and poignant tribute to your Mother. It brought a tear to my eye. I am sorry for your loss. Boys of all ages owe a great deal to their Mums and yours gave you a lifelong interest that shapes and enriches your days still after all these years.

    Best Wishes


  15. Sorry for your loss. This post was very moving.

  16. What a lovely way to honour your mother Ross and my sympathies for your loss. It made me remember that my Mum was probably the one who understood me most in all the family when I got the toy soldier bug, as it was her that made me model landscapes and villages for my Cowboys and Indians, using twigs and rocks from the garden and matchsticks and cotton wool for camp fires and wooden buiding blocks for houses. Looking back I guess I just grew up continuing where she left off...thinking it was normal .....whereas most people think I'm eccentric. Thanks for the memories, like some of your other followers it makes me tearful too thinking how generous my parents were in giving what little they had to make my miniature worlds come alive.

  17. I missed this posting until now. Your mother must have been very very fond of you, and well deserving of your tribute. My condollences for your loss.
    All the best,