When I was a child, I inherited a love for model trains. One day after a visit with my grandmother, my dad brought home his old boyhood model train. It was vintage, from the 1950s. I had never seen anything cooler in my entire life.
My dad and I made that old trainset a project, for father and son. We set the tracks on plywood and carefully nailed them down with small nails just for model trains. We bought little buildings to go with the train, and we established a little town. Our train would thunder through the town, stop at the station, and go thundering on its way with a new load of imaginary passengers going to cities far away.
We had the original transformer – nothing fancy, but for me nothing more impressive has come along until the dcc command station. I cannot begin to wager a guess as to how many hours Dad and I spent working on and playing with those trains. I wouldn’t trade those times for anything.
Today, deep into my adulthood, I still love model trains. There have been times when my trains remained locked away in storage, secure in boxes. There have been whole years when those little railroad towns disappeared too, hidden away in the attic.
Then suddenly one day, eight-year old me awakens, and I want to play with my trains. Those trainsets come out – my dad’s, and several of my own. Those towns come alive again too, and all the imaginary people living their imaginary lives there just below my fingers.
Today’s children and adolescents have plenty of toys and pastimes to choose from. Most of them are high-tech and computer-related. From my experience, for what it’s worth, nothing kindles the fires of imagination like trains.