60 years ago I woke on Christmas morning to see a train chuffing around our family Christmas tree.
60 years later I still enjoy the sound, sight and smell of that old American Flyer train. My father's father
was an Espee engineer on the Shasta Division. Real trains up there did not have a rail down the middle
and my first train wouldn't either. Looking back, American Flyer was an easy choice over Lionel.
Since then I've acquired more Flyer and Flyer compatible equipment and switched to more realistic
Showcase Lines track. This year I didn't set-up a tree, but I did setup the track underneath it. I still have
that first engine AF 302 a die cast 4-4-2 locomotive with smoke and chuff; it still runs well. This week I've been
running those 50 and 60 year old locos; savoring the sights and sounds and smells, that DCC and the techno geeks
still haven't captured. And yes running those trains brings back the memories of so many Christmas days
over six decades. May everyone have as rich a Christmas memory as those old trains still bring me.
And the New year's resolution? Well that first Flyer engine had a coal burner. At the time it didn't matter to me;
but now I want a Flyer Espee engine. I have acquired an oil Vandy shell for my old 4-4-2 and in the New Year
it will haul a proper Espee tank. And the second half of the resolution? Well late in life I've collected several of Flyer's
finest oil burner 4-8-4 locomotives; one of which will be re-badged as a Southern Pacific GS-1. Seems like a good
start to the New Year.
Kenneth R. Clark
Chula Vista, CA 91921