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Toy Train Memories

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A key element in the process of many of us getting started in the railroading hobby was the gift of model trains at holiday time. Lionel, American Flyer, Ives and all train manufacturers promoted their products as the ideal holiday gift, regardless of religious belief or denomination. There was a place in every American household for toy trains in December!


"Toy Train Memories" is a 159 page hardcover book which celebrates the connection between railroading and the holidays. Lavishly illustrated with the majority of photographs in color, the book discusses the initial developments in model train manufacturing and examines how trains evolved into the toy every child wanted. The book is divided into six main sections as follows:


1) Circumstances which led to model trains becoming the gift of choice at

holiday time

2) The consumer catalogs which announced new products

3) The integral role played by trains in stores' holiday windows

4) In store layouts and displays

5) The use of model trains to promote unrelated products

6) Appearances of trains in holiday movies and television specials


The text is presented in an easy to follow fashion and provides enjoyable reading. The photographs are brilliantly reproduced and show many sentimental favorites such as the Lionel Santa Fe F3, PRR GG1 and Union Pacific ALCo FA2. While much of the book's content focuses on vintage material from the post WWII era, the railroading hobby has experienced a renaissance over the past two decades with many participants, myself included, of the belief the current period is the true golden age of the hobby and the book does not neglect this fact. As our nation's rail system continues to again establish itself as the most economical and efficient mode of transport of freight and passengers, the hobby's growth will continue with even better times ahead.


Since we are less than a week away from Thanksgiving Day and what many consider the official beginning of the holiday season, I thought a review of this book would be appropriate at the present time. The book, authored by noted toy train expert John Grams, was initially released in 2003 by Kalmbach Books. The list price is $29.95. Its story is heartwarming for hobbyists who share some of the same experiences recounted in the text. It will also provide superb insight regarding development of the enthusiasm for railroading for younger readers who joined us in later years.


This item definitely gets two thumbs up!


Best regards,



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