(Note from the author: This is a post of mine that I posted in a predominantly scale oriented forum I visit. I'm sure that it will warp the minds of some of the staunch scale enthusiasts that frequent that forum. The following post was in response to one of the very few blogs over at that forum that concerned the 3-rail side of the hobby.)
Disclaimer: This is a long post, somewhat corny, but perhaps can encourage others that have fond memories of "days gone by". Read on at your own peril. You have been warned.
My second electric train set was a little common-as-dirt 3-rail set. (My first was a small Allstate/Marx HO received for Christmas year or two earlier that didn't survive the winter!)
Anyway, my 2nd electric train was a hand-me-down Marx 3-rail set that some family friends gave me in '59 or '60 when I was 7 or 8 years of age. Being much more robust than the little Marx HO set, it did indeed survive my antics at trying (and failing) to run the wheels off of it. The Marx 3-rail set served me well until the advent of Christmas '62, when I received a brand new Lindberg Lines HO set. The Lindberg Lines set was responsible for setting the HO hook firmly in me, and from thereon I evolved toward became a "serious" HO train modeler.
Through the ensuing decades I had fond memories of my Marx set, but I never considered acting upon it. Besides, my mental images of which Marx set I had back then were almost being lost to memory.
However, in the early 1990s, I did get hooked on Lionel, and really enjoyed finding/purchasing, and playing with, Postwar, and Postwar-type 3-rail trains. At the time I had an O scale (2 rail) friend that also had an affection for Lionel (his roots), and we used to set up big running loops for an evening, and played the fool out of those trains. We did that on several occasions. It was a lot of fun, but not a serious threat to my long time love: HO. My extensive Lionel/3-rail collection was essentially liquidated (along with a lot of my HO/etc) in order to raise the front money needed to put us into a home, and I've only dabbled once with 3-rail since.
Once we obtained said house, and moved in our lifetime home, I went through a number of years experimenting in the attempt to "find myself" and determine what I wanted to do in model railroading. This included experimental treks (costly and time consuming: Not recommended) down the Sn3, 3-rail (again), and S scale roads. Roads which finally led me back to my HO roots.
All has been well. I do not foresee an imminent change in my scale or my themes.
However, I've made some good "3-rail" friends at a primarily 3-rail forum I have frequented for about 20 years now, and I often take part in various threads there. They're a great group of guys.
Anyway, off and on over those years (in particular threads) I would at times share my vague memories about my old Marx set I had as a lad. Well, recently there has been a thread running "Marx Train Pictures" where all sorts of neat Marx trains were (still is) being shared. I again mentioned fond memories of my little Marx set I had. A set that I had no idea what it was. Well, they began to ask me questions, and I shared what I could about my memories, and lo and behold, they identified what set I had! I had a "25225" set! The pictures they were sharing jogged more memories and sure enough, I had a 25225 set from the late 1940s!
Well, I shouldn't have, but I began to surf eBay looking at Marx lithograph pieces (like mine) and boy, did the memories get refreshed. THEN I see this:
That was the set! This is the set that truly turned me into a lifelong model railroader! Mine may have had different nuances (example: just can't remember exactly which black gondola I had, and don't have any memories of a tank car that may/may not have survived into my ownership)... but overall that was it! Given the set options Marx offered, this essentially had to be the aging set I was given in '59 or '60: A 25225 set from the late 40s.
Needless to say, upon seeing that set above listed, I was a goner. I purchased the above set.
It is currently on its way to me. No, I don't have visions of grandeur of an extensive and vast collection of 3-rail, but I am very much looking forward to receiving this set, cleaning it up, and upon running it on the kitchen table I will, for the first time in a LONG time, hear the endearing sounds of metal wheels clacking over 3-rail joints and will again smell that aphrodisiac fragrance of electrical ozone. As it does, I know beyond a shadow of doubt, my mind will drift off into to a magical time of my childhood in which there were no complicated issues of life to deal with.
Sometimes pursuing our memories is a good thing.