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Christmas Trains: Readers Share Stories From Lionels And Others

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The Christmas Day column on our precious train Lionel, 71, and how he reminds me of my grandfather, was one of my favorites.

It was also a hit with readers.

I heard from about 30 people who told me how my story brought memories of their childhood back to life. A few said they were moved to tears.

Some donated stories and photos of their beloved trains and the parents and grandparents who donated them.

Frank Kedl, North Whitehall

Frank Kedl of North Whitehall Township inherited this train from his father, who received it as a Christmas present as a child. It is believed to be a 1948 model. (Document / CONTRIBUTION / FRANK KEDL)

“Like you, the Christmas tree is not finished in our house until the train is installed below. It was my father’s and it became mine after he passed away in 1995.

“He received it as a Christmas present when he was little. I believe it dates back to 1948. It has been part of our Christmas tradition for as long as I can remember (I will be 62 next month). My brother and I spent hours every Christmas on the train.

Bruce Young of Northampton, shown in 1955 at the age of 13 with the train his father gave him for Christmas.

Bruce Young of Northampton, shown in 1955 at the age of 13 with the train his father gave him for Christmas. (Document / CONTRIBUTION / BRUCE YOUNG)

(Bruce kindly sent me the text of the advertisement for my Lionel in the company’s 1950 catalog. Lionel started making trains in 1901, so mine was sold as his “Golden Anniversary” edition. sold for $ 47.50.)

“Rejoice in the fact that you have a genuine Lionel Golden Anniversary Year set. Our sets aren’t worth a lot of money on the open market, but they’re priceless to us.

“I also have Freight Kit # 1467W, but mine was offered in the 1951 catalog, and my 2023 diesel engine is silver instead of yellow. My father gave me this set when I was 9 years old.

Joseph Pavlo, Canton of Hanover, County of Northampton

“A train under the Christmas tree with the crib brings back so many childhood memories. I put my son’s Lionel train under my tree every year and my grandchildren love it. I must admit that I love him too.

“The train that my sisters, my brother and I had when we were children unfortunately no longer runs; it dates from 1958. It is currently in my basement, still in the original orange boxes.

(He plans to have it fixed and run again.)

“This train will bring back so many childhood memories and create new memories for my grandchildren.”

Patti Moser, Canton of Lower Nazareth

Patti Moser of Lower Nazareth Township received this train as a gift from her parents about 60 years ago.  His granddaughter, Stella, loves it.  We see her with her grandfather, Chuck Moser.

Patti Moser of Lower Nazareth Township received this train as a gift from her parents about 60 years ago. His granddaughter, Stella, loves it. We see her with her grandfather, Chuck Moser. (Document / CONTRIBUTION / PATTI MOSER)

“I have a Lionel that my parents bought me many years ago. I don’t know exactly when I received it, but it must be over 60 years old. My brother is a model train collector but I refused to give him this one.

“We used to have the platform with all the houses, but when I got married my husband made a smaller board with a little oval track so we could run the train a bit. We continued to use this trail when our two kids were little, but as we got older we stopped turning it off.

“Now we have a 3 year old granddaughter and we decided it was time to take her out again. She loved it.

“My mom and dad were setting up a 4×8 piece of plywood in the living room with an aluminum Christmas tree in the middle and model houses for the train. Everything in the article brought back many memories and also tears.

“Today, I now display the train on a track above our bay window in the family room, with lights on the track. The lights are on every night. Thanks, Paul, for the memories.

Cheryl Bohannon, Allentown

“I have a Lionel train from 1938 with a plastic 3-rail track and a very detailed motor. My grandfather bought it in 1938 to give it to the first grandchild, which was me in 1944. I now place it on the fireplace mantel on a few straight tracks every year.

“However, a friend who was a train enthusiast in his early years comes to my house after the holidays, and we’re going to plug him in and see if it still works. Mine is a 00 caliber, which was dropped by Lionel, and it is in excellent condition.

(Cheryl told me her friend ran the train. That’s great!)

“I really appreciated your reflections on past Christmases and the disappearance of your Lionel train. Trains were a big part of my childhood, growing up in the 1950s near Jim Thorpe …

“I continue to play with my trains occasionally, passing this tradition on to my grandchildren. I can only hope that one day they will have the pleasure of riding the tracks again from Allentown to the “big city” – New York.

“Thanks again, that was the first thing I read this Christmas morning, and it made my day.”

Peter Donio, South Carolina (native of Allentown)

Peter Donio, an Allentown native who now lives in South Carolina, received this Lionel train around the age of 4 in 1951 as a gift from his father, Dr Dominic Donio.

Peter Donio, an Allentown native who now lives in South Carolina, received this Lionel train around the age of 4 in 1951 as a gift from his father, Dr Dominic Donio. (Document / CONTRIBUTION / PETER DONIO)

“You’re not the only one with train fever over Christmas.

“My father, Dr Dominic Donio, bought me my Lionel device when I was about 4 years old. It would be in 1951. It has been maintained and still works very well.

“This is an S2 turbine from the Pennsylvania Railroad. It features a Lehigh Valley Boxcar, Barrel Car, New York Central Gondola, and Pennsy Van. I also have a PRR passenger set … My daughters love it and so do my grandchildren. Too bad there aren’t many hobbies like this anymore.

Chuck Genna, Lower Macungie

“My first set came in ’57. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my father joined the NYPD and was finally confident in his post-war earnings.

“The anniversary year was also the year Lionel introduced Magnatraction, the technology that allowed engines to pull longer trains and climb steeper hills.

“I fully identify with the nostalgia these trains provide. When I moved into a bigger house with a full basement 20 years ago, the first thing I did was build a frame for an 8 “x16” table. Imagine what it feels like to be limited to a few weeks in your childhood with a loop around the tree in our apartment in the Bronx. (The layout I’m building has an area covering 11 “x18”).

“I really appreciate the smiles from my 2 year old grandson. May you never lose your warm feeling of your mother’s train.

Morning Call columnist Paul Muschick can be reached at 610-820-6582 or [email protected]