“All aboard ! Chug-a-chugga, chug-a-chugga, whooo whooo.”
Grandpa’s train really was his train. Santa brought it when he was a little boy. He and his father put it together under the Christmas Tree. It was a real, full-sized Lionel train. Once upon a time it had towers and whistles and more cars. Over the years, things disappeared wherever things do. A couple of boxes survived growing up and moving around. It wasn’t long before Grandpa became a daddy. When he did, he pulled the old train out of its boxes and set it up under his Christmas Tree. As his children got older, they weren’t as interested in the old train as they had been when they were small. Grandpa put it back into the boxes and stored in on a shelf.
When he saw the advertisement for a train show, he thought about his box. His little grandsons said they wanted to go. Okay. They went. When they came home, everyone was excited. Grandpa got the boxes down from the shelf and gave the boys some cloths. Together, they cleaned up the old train. Thus began a long process of bringing the old train back to life. Grandpa built a train board and over many months he brought magic to it. Each time the grandchildren came to visit, they ran to see what was new about the train board.
Finally it was finished. Grandpa pulled a bench up to the board so that little people could play with the train. He put the controls right where they could reach them and he taught them how to blow the whistle and change the tracks. He let them re-arrange the animals and the cars at the campground. He put fishermen near the shoreline and made trees out of sagebrush. He molded little rocks out of paper mache’ and painted everything. Even the girls love the train. They climb onto the bench and negotiate whose turn it is to blow the whistle on the wonderful, old steam engine. Even the grown-ups love to play with Grandpa’s train . . . maybe as much as their children.