My mom was the oldest sister of three sisters, and her only younger brother is ten years her junior. I remember many conversations with my mom about how her cousins were all boys, and they had the “cool toys,” most notably their electric trains. She used to love visiting with them and getting a chance to control the trains. I imagine that by the time her brother got some “cool” boy toys, she was out of the house on dates and waiting tables at the local ski area.
I grew up the youngest of two sisters. Our house was full of all the traditional girl-related toys you’d expect: lots of stuffed animals, dolls, Barbies, and items for playing pretend school or house; however, since most of the neighborhood kids my age were male, I also played a lot of He-Man, football, and pretend camp-out.
I don’t remember any trains in the neighborhood. Electric trains were something old-fashioned…something out of a storybook. The only place I regularly saw them was in those “don’t-touch-them” stores, suspended on elevated tracks where no children ever interacted with them.
With all this history, it was with great joy and anticipation that I watched our kids receive their dad’s electric trains for Christmas this year. We purchased a new engine and track set to go with them, but the bulk of our collection was generously given to us by David’s parents and is the same set with which he spent hours as a child.
I watched them pull them out of the box…The Royal Blue. The Norfolk and Western. The Rail King. The Southern Pacific. Excited ooohhs and aaaahhs together with nervous exclamations from Daddy, “now wait–” “don’t open it yet–” “wait ’til I get it set up–“.
Then, after brief lessons on track construction and electric train safety, each boy had a turn at the controls. They saw the glow of the engine light and turned out the overhead lights. Four boys (five, if you count Daddy, which you should) and one baby girl, all suspended motionless in semi-darkness, mesmerized by the gentle hum and click of the engine.
I don’t know who’s having more fun in the pictures below, the children or the grown-ups. In the last picture you will see little Maddie’s head, and she’s living a reality that Mom and I never had. Electric trains in the house…how marvelous.