Not The Ordinary Gift For A Woman!

Last year, I asked for a train for Christmas. What did my husband think of such a request? He loved it! Why? I think because he can relate better to gifts like computers, cameras, cell phones, binoculars, etc. including anything mechanical. In all fairness I

Yep, that's me and my very own train!

Yes, that’s me and my very own train!

must say he gets me the feminine things I like, too, such as a Gentle Spirit’s jewelry creations. He has several trains, but this one would be mine. He has always regretted selling his train he had as a kid. He did it after we were married and money was short. He says it was a Lionel and would be worth a lot today.

I remember my dad’s train. He would set it up under our family Christmas tree, so to me trains and Christmases go together. It wasn’t that I enjoyed running it, with its big, noisy transformer. In fact, the four of us kids were warned not to touch it. I’ve often wondered how his parents afforded to buy him a Lionel. I remember he said he was fourteen when he got it and that would make the year 1926. It was big and heavy, I think standard gauge. a passenger type train. It’s at times like this I wish I had asked more questions of my dad while he was still living.

train 1926 Lionel

As I remember, this is what my Dad’s 1926 engine looked like.

The train I wanted, had to be steam and be reminiscent of that age, the one I got is much more than I expected. It is not antique, it’s new. I’m not sure what happened to my dad’s train. Some years ago, he gave it to my brother, Don, and Don may have passed it on to his son. Mine is a Rail King, Pennsylvania 4-6-0 and is a real beauty as it puffs smoke and smoke rings from its stack. It is so authentic and we wanted to add to its authenticity, so we bought the smoke liquid that smells just like Anthracite coal. That was too much for us as it filled the house with the coal smell and burned the eyes. Now the smoke drops we use are odorless. My train has a headlight, a digital sound system, is remotely controlled and even talks to me. When it stops for water, a voice says, “Turn on the injector.” It is amazingly realistic, looking incredibly detailed.

Needless to say we have lots of train videos in our house and have attended many train shows and museums. I guess the fact that I always liked my dad’s train, plus my husband’s interest in them caused me to catch the fever. We watch the movie, “Wonderful Life,” nearly every Christmas Eve, with its popular, old fashioned Bedford Falls train station and the old western films usually feature a train.

Trains are still among the ten most asked for Christmas gifts. It’s a childhood passion for many kids. I love to see them on the floor “nose to nose” with a train as it roars around the Christmas tree. It’s not uncommon, though, for kids to lose interest and find it taken over by dad. Way back in 1880, founder of Lionel trains, Joshua Lionel Cowen, fashioned a hand carved wooden train powered by steam. In 1900 he formed Lionel manufacturing and by 1921 more than a million Lionel trans had been sold.

Some may think that it’s quite unnatural for a grown woman to want a train for Christmas, but then “normal” can become terrible boring in life. I guess my childhood passion has been fulfilled. My train is up and puffing away. When the room lights are turned off its headlight casts unusual shadows that bring back memories of a rich and varied history. Is it possible that this is a yearning of other adults, maybe already met years ago?

As you hang your favorite tree ornament and sing your favorite Christmas carol they may evoke the sounds and smells of Christmas Past. Don’t be surprised if included among them is the sound of a passing steam train. Have a Merry Christmas and as you open your gifts this year, praise God from whom all blessings flow.

I’d love to hear you comments on this week’s shirlandyou. Click on the above headline, scroll down through this write up and through the comments already there, then type yours in the box provided.

14 thoughts on “Not The Ordinary Gift For A Woman!

  1. When my son was small, I used to put a train underneath our tree. It was a large train and it could easily be put back onto the track, after it derailed. Dominick enjoyed playing with it, but as he grew older he lost interest in it. I haven’t had the train set out in many years, but we still have it. Maybe it will be passed onto his children, once he is married and has children of his own. Many people enjoy trains. I think that they take us back in time, to an era when things were less complicated and life was perhaps more enjoyable. Merry Christmas and God Bless.


    • Hi Colleen: Enjoyed what you had to say about Dominick’s train. As you do, I suspect that there will still be a time when that train will be enjoyed by someone, maybe your grandchildren.Thanks for writing, love hearing from yuu.


  2. Loved this weeks subject. When our son was just 3 yrs old my husband decided he had to have a train set for Christmas(actually i believe it was for my husband and my father). It was so large a layout that it took up the entire living room but oh how the two big kids enjoyed it. We bought it used for $75 in the early 60’s. It had sound and steam, a mail car that snatched the mail from a pole . Also cattle cars that unloaded and a log car that dumped. It was a very nice set and as you mentioned the transformers were huge. We enjoyed it was about 6 or 7 yrs and then sold it to a happy new
    owner. We wish we had it back….


    • You really could relate to week’s write up. I loved reading what you said, especially about selling your train and wishing you had it back. I think there are many people who did the same thing and regret it. Sounds as if the train still brings you and Marty great memories. Love hearing from you.


  3. I have always had a fascination with trains. We always had a train around the Christmas tree at home and in the twenty-seven years I’ve been married there is still a train under the Christmas tree. This past year my husband collected the cars of a nice John Deere train which is under our upstairs tree. And our downstairs tree has a train under it as well.
    This past October we took a ride on the Potomac Eagle in Romney, WVA. and we loved every minute of it. I hightly recommend it if you haven’t been to the Potomac Eagle:)
    So, if it’s not normal for ladies to be interested in trains….then we’ll be ‘not normal’ together. Actually, I kind of like not being normal:)


    • One upstairs and one downstairs, you really have it made. We have never visited the Potomac Eagle in Romney W. Virginia. Have you ever rode on the Strasburg Railway, in Strasburg, PA? (Amish country?) Loved what you had to say. Thanks for writing.


  4. Every Sunday in Riverside,Pa. while visiting our family we would wave to the enginier and the guy in the cabose of the real train that would pass by the house several times each day. They looked forward to seeing us as much as we did them…the horn would sound that they were almost there and then wave and blow the horn some more. One of my favorite charished memories…so having a train under our Christmas Tree was a must. We went through a few sets because they were well played with. Also remember the train and village at Roadside America…!!


    • Arms automatically go up and waving begins when trains go by. Surely proof that people still love trains. I remember having our grandchildren ride with the engineer at Williams Grove, PA, during one of their steam shows. An experience they’ll never forget. I look forward to your comments with every shirlandyou post. Merry Christmas.


  5. I love how you say, “normal can become terrible boring in life.” You are so right! And our family always has something not “normal” going on. It was great to read about all the toy trains in your life. I wonder if you should look into getting an antique one just like Dad’s was?


    • Oh no, don’t tell me you are catching the fever, too. Check the radius before you buy. Mine is a small radius and a lot of them come that way today. I love your un-normal family, keep it that way. Beside, you cane from one. Thanks for writing.


  6. I am a train lover too. Santa never brought me a train because I was a “girl”, so I had to go to my boy cousins to play with their trains. I finally got my very own trains after we were married. I love the steam trains. My favorites are the “General” & anything Conrail (diesel). I also love working accesories. They really add to the layout. Hope to see you at some rallies this summer – hopefully at Conneaut Lake Park again.



    • Loved reading what you had to say. I’d say, when we have to wait a long time to get “our” train, they really are special. We’ll be at the rallies, too bad we can’t go by train. Thanks for writing.


  7. Its funny when you say kids often lose interest in trains. We have a nephew who wanted to be a train engineer from the time he was little. Today is is working for the railroad learning to be an engineer. No loss of interest in this case. Scott


    • Hi Scott: I’m delighted to hear from you and you are right some people seem to know what they want to become at a very young age and really stick to it. Becoming and staying interested in trains can open up a whole world of opportunities. Wonder if you have watched Ken Burn’s series on the West. Episode 5 is about the laying of track from east to west in our country. Railroading didn’t come easily. Maybe someday it will come back in popularity. Thanks for writing.


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