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Hobbyists still depend on their local shop, including this Pearl Harbor survivor

Hobbyists come in all ages and backgrounds, including Pearl Harbor Survivor Allen Bodenlos.
Hobbyists come in all ages and backgrounds, including Pearl Harbor Survivor Allen Bodenlos.
Kenneth Brantingham

The demise of the hobby shop is greatly overstated. In fact, there are two in San Diego County with the same name: Hobby People. It's the place to go when your rocket breaks apart after a freefall, or your remote control car needs that doohickey that holds the antennae up. It's for people with model trains and those who build replicas of sailing ships or toss gliders into the wind. The Hobby People is wall to ceiling thick with oversized miniature off-road vehicles, experimental helicopters, and star ships. The unexpected and intriguing can appear on any aisle.

The Hobby People store on Convoy Street occupies a corner of a strip mall.
Kenneth Brantingham

On this day, among the World War II era model ships was Pearl Harbor Survivor Allen Bodenlos making a purchase. At 93, he's still driving, making models, lecturing, and traveling to Pearl Harbor twice a year.

"I talk to school classes all the time, and I don't have a submarine," says Bodenlos.

Bodenlos is an army, not navy, veteran who witnessed the bombing of battleship row and the explosion that destroyed the U.S.S. Arizona and killed over a 1,000 men. It's not unusual for Bodenlos to be greeted with a hand shake and a thank you; a scene repeated at the Hobby People store.

Oblivious, store staff continue doing what they're supposed to do, helping customers. The patron of this store has special needs for their projects; things not found at Wal-Mart or Fry's Electronics, including tools, parts, gizmos and accessories made to keep trains running and radio controlled cars, helicopters, and air planes operational, looking good, and moving faster.

About a dozen kite designs can be found here, including one that replicates a World War II era Thunderbird fighter with spinning propeller and a 45 inch wing span for $19.99.

With rows of models one can, if desired, rebuild the American Pacific fleet from WW2, raise up a square rigger, or construct the U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701), as in Star Trek. Various renditions of the Enterprise are available from small to humungous.

For Bodenlos, it's a model submarine he'll use as an object lesson to teach children about war, peace, and the price of freedom.

Hobby People locations
San Diego
4344 Convoy St, San Diego, CA ‎
(858) 268-7997 ‎

El Cajon
469 Broadway, El Cajon, CA ‎
Broadway Plaza Shopping Center
(619) 444-6135

Murrieta (Riverside County)
26755 Jefferson Ave, Murrieta, CA ‎
(951) 677-5816

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