I took Sebastian to see model trains that were set up at the Museum of Our National Heritage in Lexington this afternoon, as exhibited by the "Hub Division" of the New England chapter of the National Model Railroading Club. They had big modular setup that took up a big room at the museum, and some parts were nicely detailed. These guys are pretty serious: they were coordinating the trains while wearing radio headsets and even mounted a tiny wireless video camera on one of the trains so that you could see the "engineer"'s point of view on a TV screen. I can see how the first generation of hackers that came out of MIT also overlapped with the local modeller's club at MIT, the Tech Model Railroading Club.
As it turns out, this museum (just south of Lexington Center) is on the campus of the Supreme Council of the Northern U.S. region of the Scottish Rite of Accepted Freemasons. (Yes, Them.) There's an exhibit called "The Initiation of America" because it ties in the various semi-secret societies (the Shriners, Masons, Elks, B'nai Brith, Knights Templar, Odd Fellows, and so on) with more mainstream happenings like graduation. It also has some pretty interesting artifacts like a fancy initiation stepladder with words like "Ethics" and "Rhetoric" written on the various steps. (No paddles or the like, though.) These kinds of organizations were as much about self-improvement and assimilation into America as they were about business connections and silly hats, and it's kind of sad to realize that their time has passed.