At some point, toy trains and model railroads became associated with the holiday season, I guess when parents would set up tracks around the Christmas tree.
One Christmas, probably third- or fourth grade, I got my first Lionel set-up. I don't recall the tracks around the tree. But each subsequent Christmas, I'd ask for a particular Lionel car or crossing gate or switcher.
(I suppose my "gold" Fort Knox car and the Bronx Zoo giraffe car then and now represent my most cherished Lionel cars!)
I gave up trains by the time junior high school rolled around (for obvious reasons).
But, as with many baby-boomers, I picked up the hobby again as an adult. Some 20 years ago, my now late father brought me the train set of my youth.
(Long ago, I realized the smaller H.O.'s represented the more sophisticated set-up for many model railroaders, but I confess I stayed with the bigger Lionel scale.)
Interesting how all the other toys of my childhood long disappeared, but those Lionel cars remain!
I set it all up in our basement, and have added a few cars and landscape over the years.
Having visited a few model railroading shows over the years - typically at the Nur temple - I've long realized sophisticated model railroaders can become obsessed with their hobby, crafting miniature worlds. I've never had the time nor dedication for that. But I certainly can appreciate how they must derive hours of relaxation and content from their avocation.
Just as well I hadn't had a sophisticated set-up, as unfortunately, a water leak in our basement this past summer forced my wife to temporarily dislodge some of the set-up.
I managed to restore most everything over this past Christmas break. Something about the clickety-clack of that train, the whistle, and even the odor prompts memories of a much simpler time in my life.
I prefer to enjoy my Lionel stuff that way. I couldn't just store cars and other items in their original boxes as collectible investments; I realize some serious model railroaders do.
Posted at 3:22pm on January 4, 2010 by Allan Loudell
Allan, I share your sentiment about the trains. I have quite an extensive collection of die-cast antique cars and trucks, most of which I bought on E-bay. My problem is that I have them displayed on my desk at work and I don't know where I'll put them when I retire from the post office!
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