To some attending last week's briefing on the future of Angels Gate Park in San Pedro, it seemed as though the members of the Belmont Shore Model Railroad Club needed a lesson in etiquette.
The club maintains an elaborate 40-by-90 foot model railroad display in an old military barracks at Angels Gate, which was once part of Ft. MacArthur. Six club members--worried that a Los Angeles city plan for the park would call for demolition of their barracks--attended Thursday's meeting.
"We're not a very mobile-type organization," club President John Fowkes explained. "If we had to move our railroad, it would take us about two months of weekends to dismantle it and get the forklifts to move it, but it would take about a year to reassemble it. It's a big deal to us."
The club members sat in the middle of the audience. Halfway through the meeting, a city recreation official said the plan called for the model railroad to remain. En masse, the club members stood up, shuffled their folding chairs just enough to make a small ruckus, and left.
Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, a guest at the meeting, walked out at the same time. No one thought much of Bradley's leaving--the mayor, after all, is a very busy man--but the railroad club's departure did not go without notice.
"Right after their issue was taken care of, they left," Mario Juravich, an aide to Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, grumbled later. "People are like that sometimes. They'll go to a meeting and their issue is resolved, and they leave. I thought it was rude."
But it turns out that the railroad enthusiasts did not leave the meeting because their issue had been resolved.
They left because Mayor Bradley asked to see their model railroad.