Families and Electric Trains

Families and Electric Trains

Families and Electric Trains

This 100-page special issue from Classic Toy Trains magazine features 15 stories of how electric trains bring families together.

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines


introducing families and electric trains

I’m pleased to introduce Families and Electric Trains, the latest special-interest publication (SIP) from Classic Toy Trains. The articles you’re about to read and enjoy represent newly written material, beautifully illustrated with new and old photos as well as vintage catalog images and advertising artwork. By my calculation, Families and Electric Trains is the 15th SIP put out by CTT since our late editor Neil Besougl-off envisioned All Star Electric Trains of the 1950s in 2005. It has been my honor and pleasure to have written or edited all of them. Having just added the finishing touches to Families and Electric Trains, I came to a startling conclusion: This is the SIP we should have done first. I honestly mean this. Before recalling Lionel sets of the postwar era, exploring the worlds of…

families were the story behind electric trains

Toy trains – primarily electrical ones – captured the imagination of people around the world through much of the 20th century. Already fascinated by the power, size, and speed of actual locomotives and rolling stock, adults and children everywhere viewed miniature versions with curiosity and pleasure. They wanted to own and operate replicas of the trains they observed regularly and traveled on occasionally. The most fortunate of individuals living in North and South America and Europe possessed sufficient disposable income to go ahead and purchase an electric train. They did so for the same reason they bought dolls, wagons, wood blocks, games, and balls: to keep children entertained. Yet the plaything first acquired to gratify and thrill youngsters often ended up casting quite a spell over adults. Many of them willingly…

so often the fun started with dad

Where do we begin when looking at the myriad ways electric trains have been part of family life in the United States? General themes in the preceding introductory section lead naturally to some specific ideas, memories, and plans. As they do, a few different situations and relationships prevail. Grandparents, siblings, and moms get their due – and deservedly so – because in many actual and imagined families they started all the fun. All the same, the experiences recollected by O and S gauge fans have fathers leading the way. Dads, often because they had played with sets and accessories during their youth, insisted on showing their kids the fun an electric train might provide. They were the ones who bought the inaugural set, acquired materials for a layout, and pushed their…

one great layout satisfies two generations of builders

Cody Leavel doesn’t understand why someone who enjoys toy trains would ever leave the hobby. Of course, he has been surrounded by O gauge models his entire life. Avoiding them would have meant finding another place to live. When a parent invests time and resources in constructing a terrific model railroad, ignoring the trains and downplaying the fun and excitement become just about impossible. At least this has been the case for Cody. Rather than overlook what his folks, Don and Starr Leavel, loved, he has embraced it. Even now, Cody keeps working with his father to improve a wonderfully landscaped and smoothly running layout spread over approximately 330 square feet. Surprisingly, the same early initiation into the hobby Cody experienced happened with Don. Yes, this family boasts three generations of O…

four generations of train lovers

For a father to pass along a love of electric trains to his child is hardly surprising. The story of two generations under a single roof operating O or S gauge models is one most hobbyists acknowledge and probably can claim as their own. Less common is the family in which grandchildren become involved with toy trains, too. Somewhere along the way, members of the third generation drift away from the hobby and find other leisure-time activities more to their liking. Then there’s the tightly knit Galuchie family, which boasts not just three generations of men who operate Lionel trains and accessories but now a fourth. A tradition that was launched at Christmas of 1936 looks to grow even stronger in the future. The youngest among the train-loving Galuchies is Dominic, a toddler…

mom switched one boy from flyer to lionel

Many of a toy train enthusiast’s favorite memories relate to the family member responsible for purchasing his or her initial set or building the inaugural layout. John Korajczyk understands what his fellow collectors and operators are talking about as he recalls the American Flyer models he received growing up near Boston in the early 1960s. But he quickly points out the only reason he was given S gauge equipment was because his older brother, Richard, already owned a Flyer set. “How else were we going to be able to play together?” John asks rhetorically. By the time the holiday season of 1963 approached, six-year-old John had become well aware of the three-rail trains made and marketed by Lionel. He enjoyed watching them in action on a display layout in a department…