It’s hard to determine where one gets their love for a Hobby! My Dad never had it, nor my Brother, but as far back as I can remember I had this love of Trains. Where did it come from? Was it in my Gene’s, I guess I could’ve had a worse affliction for something less than chasing Trains. My first Memory was when I was about 5 or 6 playing with my Brothers Electric Train, an “O” Gage American Flyer, A 1938 vintage Electric Engine with passenger Cars. It was my brothers Train, but I think I was more captive by it than he was. I recieved my own Electric train set possibly when I was 7 for Christmas one year and I can remember it to this date 66 years later. My Dad had it mounted on a 4X8 sheet of Plywood, and it sat under the Christmas Tree. I was so happy that I received from Santa Claus, I think. After Christmas my dad and brother set it up down in the Basement where we proceeded to paint Streets and Sidewalks on the board, and mounted a few of the Plastic Houses I received as Christmas Gifts, but alas, It went up into the Attic for the remainder of the year only to be brought down at Christmas Time each year. It grew each year as I received Gifts related to the train Set, Switches, More Cars, Buildings. It was becoming quite a Model railroad in itself.
Then when I was 10, I came back from serving at Church one Christmas Eve (Alter Boy) I walked into the House to see a Much Larger Train layout, 2- 4X8 panels of plywood, more track and switches and a brand new Train running around the tracks. I screamed and gave my Dad a great big hug (Mom Too) I couldn’t wait to call my Boy friend Douglas the next Morning to tell him about what I got for Christmas. A Santa Fe Streamliner with 4 Passenger Cars. It was beautiful, Shinny and it looked so good going around the track.
It also went down into the Basement after Christmas to have more streets and sidewalks painted on the new board and more buildings added to it., then back up into the attic till next Christmas. So it went year after year. It wasn’t till I was about 9 or 10 that my interest in Trains changed from a Christmas thing to actually going to see Trains. In the Summer Months my Friend Douglas and I would venture out on our Bicycles to different locations around Chicago to view actual trains. The Chicago and Northwestern, The Milwaukee Road, we’d read about and get Time schedules and ride down to where we could view them. Riding the Chicago Elevated System took us downtown to where the Stations were and gather up all the Brochures we could on the many Railroads that came into Chicago and the times they would be coming thru our neighborhood. Douglas’s Dad built model railroad cars and every once and awhile I’d see him sitting at the Kitchen Table working on them, they were beautiful.
During my Teenage years Trains sort of took a backseat to other interesting Phenomenons that were occurring in my life, Like Girls, work, and becoming a Sailor. trains sort of took a backseat during these years although I would still be memorized by a passing train at a railroad crossing, but for now Trains were not going to be a part of my life for the next 40 some years. Buying a house, raising Daughters and working both at a job and remodeling a house took up all of my time. It wasn’t till I retired that my ambitions to getting back into trains started to grow again.