Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Daddy first bought our American Flyer electric train for my brother the Christmas he was two. We spent that Christmas at our grandparents house in Amherst. On Christmas Eve I was supposed to be asleep in the bedroom next to Grandmother's living room, but I was not asleep. I climbed out of bed and peeped around the door to see Daddy and Granddaddy down on their hands and knees having a wonderful time putting the electric train together on Grandmother's floor. We had fun with my brother's present that Christmas.

When we got home, Daddy made a big plywood board for the train. He took the dining room table and chairs out of our small dining room and stored them in the garage. The dining room became our "train room." We started with a steam engine that put out real smoke (sometimes) and a few train cars. The train became a huge family project. My dad sold electric trains through his hardware company, so he took great joy in bringing home new cars, a new diesel engine with a real headlight, neat lighted passenger cars with people in them, a circus train complete with animals and crossing signals with lights.

Daddy loved all the action parts of the train set. He liked the switch that uncoupled the cars and he eventually made the track large enough that we could run two trains at one time with two control boxes at the edge of the train board. Mother was the electrician in the family and she often crawled under the train boards that Daddy held up to wire and rewire the accessories that Daddy brought home. We children scampered across the train boards to decorate with small buildings and bushes, toy people, and railroad signs that Daddy brought to us. Note my brother's western village in the picture on the left.

Looking back on the experience, I think it was wonderful the way our family took the toy and made it a family project that pulled us all together much better than the dining room table ever did.


  1. What a wonderful memory!

    (Have you read Jayber Crow? I'm almost to the end. I think you would like it. It's one man's collection of memories and stories. [fiction])

  2. No, I have not read Jayber Crow. I will have to look it up. Thanks for telling me about it.

  3. What great memories you have written about on your blog! I just found the one about your grandmother killing chickens and left a comment. Our recollections are very much alike.

  4. I love the train story. We had a train that Santa left around the Christmas tree when I was around 3 or so. I can still smell the sort of burnt electrical fumes the oil and friction the train cars created:)

  5. Yes, our electric train was a big part of our family life for several years. Joe has called several times with comments and looking up antique American Flyer trains on E-Bay with the thought of starting a collection. Hmmm!