My parents did not play with trains as kids. Or should I say, did not like trains. Mom's Grandmother got hit by Detroit trolley and died, and so Gramps didn't have a holiday train around, and she chose dolls; so go figure .
I didn't find out why till my twenties though. I found Grandma's childhood Marx CV buried in a dirt floor of a family carriage/buggy house and she explained how it got there and wasn't on a shelf. Great Gramps dropped it off for her on her first married Christmas, she was hiding it to spare Gramps any pain and the door was chained, but not so tight she couldn't slip it in and let it fall flat.
So, with no buggy anymore, it had sat right there since the 40-50s till I unearthed it in the 80s, washed the mud off, oiled it, and have ran it evey since....except for an impulsive trade to position myself to land a GG-1; but I bought it back within months. Thank God; because it made me sick after. The GG-1 itch got scratched though...and that brings us to my Dad's dad. Gramps was responsible for developing that itch. Every PW version of the GG-1 was here, and one unopened in a shipper, with his name on it...and it should be a Black Jack, just like the one I ran (once I earned the right). Already a collector for a decade, he was on the first night's shipping list for the GG-1s .
Great Gramps used to joke that Gramps had only married Grandma to get his hands on his tinplate when he died. He turned to Kusan, Auburn, AMT,KMT,Kris for the bang for a buck after tinplate value skyrocketed; selling most to buy new, pocketing some loot, and keeping key pieces.
So, this brings us back to Dad as a boy, trying to play with his train whoo hoo! .... with both his Dad and Grandfather watching and dictating every action .. They were both in the height of a rivet counting phase and feeding off each other. Train orders and scales speeds are ok at times, but can bore the imagination right out of a kid too
They didn't even realize they were using him as a RR monkey . Dad said he played along, but never enjoyed playing with trains much because of their "rules", but always liked watching it during the piece and quite of a holiday eve, so set one up for us EVERY year. I was hooked immediately
As Grandkids got born, both Gramps & G.Gramps shifted out of scale and into pure Post War. Trains became about the fun again, like their tin days. And soon, everyone in the family was in on Lionel trains to some extent.
I had Dads GOOD Scout set for years. It was bought long before his birth, as was mine too. Detroit had two massive storms a year or so apart during the late 70s. "the Green storm" and "the Brown storm". It died with tons of what I now know were other priceless goodies (I think Gramps was "Automotive" buyer of the largest L.S.A-space race X set on record. It was picked up by a pal working near Lionel, then relayed to Great Gramps at Fords, then relayed to Gramps at US Steel, then relayed to VFW, then given to me.. for being awsome ...No adress because it was not delivered. It was phoned in here, and picked up at shipping in the a.m.., the ph# is either here or at the car plant, and it was running later that day).
Anyhow..Rust had bloomed in that Scout's box, after the first year it flooded, and it was damp for too many days the second year. The had the motor had grown fuzzy, and frozen solid in a few days. The tender was toast too. We didnt have a way to pull Scout couplers after that. Many other cars died then too, so we traded Dads Scout stuff to Gramps in the 70's for better stock with lobster claws, a new pad rocket, 2 new red white and blue missiles, a handful of white mini-rockets, new logs, new helicopter, submarine parts, plastiville, smoke pellets, and a 1033.
A number of years ago, my Mom got a Polar Express for herself as a reminder of her now grown kids playing together with trains under the tree....In fact, I hadnt thought about it before, but she got a Berk before I built a layout, lol.
I also had a Second Uncle by marriage, that collected Marx tin toys of all types. They baby sat me in Vermillion Ohio as a kid. I recall that was the first Sparking Mercury and CP I saw, and thought it was the greatest train set ever! (give me a sparking toy and you wouldn't hear from me again till the flint was gone ); I asked often, but he never ran them again. He seemed to delight in showing a toy or two, then putting it away; never to be seen again despite polite requests. That room was filled and off limits. You couldn't even wait at the door. He would seat you in a huge leather chair and put them on the table in front of you. In years I only saw a portion of the collection; a few wind-ups at a time, run two or three times each, then put away...cool and disapointing both. He was an odd one to want to own any toys at all imo; all smiles when you asked, but not a speck of humor left in the man after the toy's springs wound down.