Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Model trains bring back Christmas memories

From Courier-Post: Model trains bring back Christmas memories

When Rich Drobil was a little boy in the 1950s, Santa Claus labored through the night to set up a Christmas tree amid a working model train set on a large platform in his living room.
The joy he felt at the sight never left the Glassboro resident.
“I couldn’t wait for those sounds and the smell of smoke from the Lionel steam engine running around the tree each year,” recalled Drobil, now a 61-year-old model train enthusiast who works for Camden County College’s information technology department.
“It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that the layout platform lived behind all the shelving of my father’s workbench in the basement til Christmas Eve,” he added. “After I was in bed, my mother and father would drag it up from the cellar and spend the entire evening placing the houses, wiring the tracks, testing everything, (and) then putting up the tree with lights, tinsel and the other hanging decorations.”
For many children of a certain generation, Christmas and trains go together like a pair of rails. Though the tradition faded for a time, it has seen a resurgence in recent years as technology has improved and as grandparents introduce their childhood hobby to a new set of fans.
Beloved children’s classics like The Polar Express, the Harry Potter series and Thomas the Tank Engine have also revived interest in trains, said Conrad Daniel, owner of the Toy Train Emporium in Cherry Hill. The store is packed floor to ceiling with trains and their accessories, both new and old.
“There’s something about trains and Christmas,” said Daniel, who has been in business for 16 years. “It may have something to do with the fact that, back in the day, trains were a little pricey. It was something you got for Christmas.”
Indeed, model train makers like Lionel offer holiday-themed trains and accessories — there’s even a blue-and-white Hanukkah train.
But the association between model trains and the holidays may stretch back even further to the 18th century, said Drobil, a member of the Strasburg Model Railroad Club of South Jersey. Back then, homes would feature a miniature village under their Christmas trees.


No comments:

Post a Comment