NEW YORK - On the buzzing thoroughfare of 30th Avenue in Astoria, Marvin Cochran's shop has lived two lives.
In 1942, his in-laws opened Rudy's Confectionery, an ice cream parlor that Marvin and his wife kept running until the 1990s.
"We needed all new equipment and decided we were tired and looked for something easier," he said. "I had been a train collector— still am—and, little by little, I got into the hobby business."
The confectionery was reborn as Rudy's Hobby Shop, with storefront signage still bearing the first name of his father-in-law. Marvin doesn't correct the many customers who mistake his identity.
"There was no reason to change the name," he said. "And, by being here, I just became Rudy."
These days, he oversees a varied domain consisting of military models, jigsaw puzzles, art supplies, used books, religious statuettes, and, of course, trains.
His inventory eschews modern styles in favor of classics from Lionel and, his favorite, American Flyer.
"It looks more real," he said.
Working at the shop, he finds a strong sense of purpose.
"I'm in my 80s, and I'm still coming to work four days a week—and loving it," he said.
His customers appreciate that Rudy's persists, offering a window into their childhoods.
"There's fewer and fewer hobby stores left, and I'm one of the rare ones," Marvin said. "It's good memories."
Rudy's Hobby & Art
3516 30th Ave
Long Island City, NY 11103
for more features.