Friday, March 04, 2005

About the train

This will be a two-part story. The second part will be written after I find a photo that will make it all sensible.

We were living in St Louis (Crestwood, to be exact) in 1964 in a neat brick ranch with a walk-out basement that had a driveway that went downhill around the house to the garage. Our backyard had a small, flat area to play in and then went precipitously downhill to a creek. I remember that some hornets lived in the hillside...and suffered my first sting as a result of that discovery.

For Xmas that year, I received a bunch of neat toys (a list of which I have courtesy of my Mom, who was still not too busy to make note of such things in my "baby book") including this train. I rode it all winter long in the basement, and when it was warm enough to play outside, I would ride it in the street (this was in the 60's, when you could play in the street without fear) and also ride it down the steep driveway. This bugged my Mom, not because I was in any danger (which I probably was, but this was the '60's when you could do all sorts of foolhardy stunts and not get hurt) but as a child, I always wore nicely polished shoes, either white or black, and when I would zoom down the driveway, I would drag the toes of my shoes along the pavement, scuffing them terribly. Poor Mom would have to polish my shoes all the time. My Dad sold shoes back then (actually, he was the shoe department manager) and didn't believe in sneakers for his kids.

The train was made of plastic, with a wooden steering handle, a metal bell, and a plastic horn that you could push to make a whistling sound. It was a glorious toy, and in my mind, I was riding that train all around St Louis, to the department store to visit my Dad, and to Nebraska to visit my grandparents.

I rode that train until, as Mom would later tell me, "the wheels were squared off". I had graduated to tricycles (my buddy Dave and I would lash them together to play Batman and Robin -- another skinned-knee waiting to happen) and the last time I saw my beloved train, it was being loaded into a Goodwill Truck. I recall feeling sad about seeing it go, but in those days bad feelings were soon forgotten.

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