Wednesday, September 19, 2012

TRAIN TIME: The Beginnings of The Madness

If you're a follower of Toys & Stuff (and I urge you to sign up as follower of the blog to keep up with the latest posts) you know that I actually started out as an HO scale model railroader. I had been interested in HO since my teenage years but something happened a little over twenty years ago that would change everything. Does one really know when madness begins? Perhaps it's easy to look back and pick a point at which something inside changed. When the world as you once saw it began to take on the appearance of the world as you now view it. It was actually Model Railroader magazine that can be blamed for the long, gradual slip into insanity. In the late '80s the magazine published a series of articles about tinplate trains which covered Lionel, American Flyer, Hafner, Marx and others and for me it was so fascinating to see these big, colorful toys from a bygone era and they enchanted me so. HO scale had been losing its luster for a long time and these lovely old toys re-awakened my interest in trains.
Upon arriving back in the States from Germany in late 1991 there were so many things to have to worry about: setting up a new house, getting the kids in a new school, and more. Hobbies took a back seat at this time. BUT THEN, my youngest daughter asked for the darndest thing for Christmas - a train set!! Honest, I did not push her or otherwise try to influence her! She thought it would be a nice toy. Welllll, let it not be said that poppa wanted to let his daughter down soooooo, I bought us, um, I mean HER a train set :-) This next picture is the only one we have of her first train set under the Christmas tree. It's also the very first train set under a tree ever for me. Even though I had a '50s era American Flyer train set as a kid, my folks never, ever set it up for Christmas. It's a hole in my childhood I look back at from time to time with sadness. I mean after all, we had the train, why couldn't it have been set up?? I'll never know, but any of you parents out there take note. Trains may not be for everyone but if you have them it's just a really nice thing to do to set them up for the holidays.
The train we set up in 1991 is a modern era Lionel New York Central freight set with a tender that made an awful racket by means of BBs rolling about within it's belly (it was supposed to act as 'train sounds').

Sometime between when this train was set-up and the following year, I started buying trains. Bigger trains. Not HO scale, but toys. It was during this 1991-92 period that I can trace the beginnings of madness - the insanity that grabs a collector when 'the bug' hits! And boy, did I get bit! You can tell by the 1992 picture below that we are no longer setting up trains on the carpet but have a proper base for them along with buildings and people and trees and stuff too! Like the photo above, this is the only photo we have of that layout.
  We always  Enjoyed & Loved it :)