Christmas On Track

Christmas time has come and gone again, and I did quite well in the gift department. I got all kinds of great things from friends and family. I got more than I should have and far more than I deserved.

First, from my father I got a Hawthorn Village Budweiser On30 train set. This is my first On30 train. On30 is narrow gauge – O scale trains which are 1/4″ to the foot, running on HO track, giving a scale track gauge of 30 inches or 2 1/2 feet. The set is made by Bachmann and sold by the Bradford Exchange. Currently, it is running around under the Christmas tree. Yup, sorry, no longer “mint in package”!

Hawthorn Village Budweiser Set

Next, from my sister, I got framed print of a 2-4-0 locomotive. Now this isn’t just any old print. The pen and ink drawing is made up of many other objects. For instance, one of the drive wheels is a clock face, the top of the smoke stack is a pie, the band around the smoke stack is a belt, and part of the cow-catcher is a fan. Ever part of the locomotive and its tender is actually some other object. A very ingenious picture, and sorry for my very poor photograph of it. It now proudly hangs in my home office.

Locomotive Print

That was basically it for the train haul this year, but great stuff! In addition, I got some gift cards to places like Barnes & Nobles, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy that will most probably end up being turned towards my railroad hobby. Now I just need some time to play with it all.

On a separate but related note, I know of quite a few young kids who got their first train sets this year. I am really pleased to see the tradition continuing. What’s more, these sets went to both boys and girls, and the trains were wooden, electric, and of various scales. Hooray for diversity!

I hope the season has been good to you and yours, and I trust that next year will be just as good or better.

Lionel Artist Angela Trotta Thomas In Charleston

Stepping a bit outside of my own model train news, I would just like to relate that a great event for train lovers, art lovers, and Christmas train lovers of all ages is happening this Friday evening, December 6.

Angela Trotta Thomas - Southern Charm

Coco Vivo at gallery has announced a special holiday art show during the month of December. Angela Trotta Thomas, official artist of Lionel Train Corporation, will exhibit a collection of original oils depicting nostalgic toy train art. An exciting COCO VIVO Christmas window scene will feature the Angela Trotta Thomas Signature Express toy train set traveling through a holiday snowy village. Angela’s powerful images are a mixture of Lionel trains, childhood, and the holiday season. This year’s train layout will be even bigger than last year’s display!

A special invitation is extended to kids of all ages to experience the magic of toy trains this Christmas. Meet Angela Trotta Thomas on Friday, December 6, 5:00 – 8:00 PM, at 25 Broad Street in downtown Charleston during a special artist reception. Join our Jingle & Mingle holiday event and relive the memories of Christmases past. Angela will be handing out and signing the latest Lionel Christmas catalog.

Angela’s latest artworks draw on memories of Lionel trains and a simpler time. She is creating still life paintings that combine Lionel trains with period objects that evocatively freeze time. Many paintings will depict Lionel trains of the era, and children playing with their favorite trains.

What I Miss

Christmasn Ash TreeWe moved a few weeks ago. Moved out of a house that we had lived in for more than twenty-one years. The move wasn’t for the best of reasons, but it all went well. And we are now in a bigger house with, and this is very important, more garage space for my cars. It is in a nice neighborhood, and we are already meeting the folks around us. I am also very grateful that we had some very good friends who were generous of their time and helped with all the heavy lifting.

So, things are fine.

But there is one thing from the old house that I miss. In the side yard was an ash tree. We called it the Christmas Tree. We called it that because we got it from the county recycling center for turning in our regular Christmas tree for recycling after the holiday season was over. This was back when we first moved into the house, and the ash Christmas tree started off as no more than a twig.

Seriously. It was a leafless, limbless stick about 15 inches long or so, and we had to mark where it was so that we wouldn’t accidentally mow it. That was about 20 years ago. It is now a very good sized tree that is far taller than the old house. It is amazing how it grew over the years. It weathered storms and heat and drought and even, amazing for Charleston, snow. It grew into a fine and sturdy tree, and one that could not be uprooted and moved. So, at the old house it stays.

I will miss that tree, and I hope the people who buy the house will see it for the fine tree it is and let it continue to grow and shade the house. It would be a real shame if it was cut down after weathering so much.

Yup, the new house is fine, but I wish I could have somehow brought the Christmas tree along with me.

Cigar Box Home at Christmas

When most people think of cigar boxes they don’t think of anything near this nice. But cigars today often come in boxes of very fine woodwork that make beautiful homes for valuables of all types – beyond the cigars they originally carried. Cigar stores charge varying prices for the empty boxes, but if you are friendly, ask nicely, and show an interest they will hold the nice one for you and you won’t have to pay too much. If you are good regular customer you might not have to pay anything at all! (Just saying …)

Hornby Trains on Cigar Box

So, for the small Christmas set I put together for a friend I used a limited edition Camacho cigar box. Now this is one that is not going to be easy to find, but there are many others out there. The only modifications I made to this box were the two clasps on the front (purchased from Michael’s Crafts for $4) and some small pieces of felt for feet underneath and in the clasp area to keep the lid closed a little tighter. Total price for the box including all modifications, um, yep, between $4 and $5.

Cigar Box Train Case

I had all the various train components from being a pack-rat over the years. All I had to do was sort through boxes and put it all together and make sure it all worked together. Oh, and a bit of cleaning and dusting. The Hornby locomotives  and three cars and cars are wrapped in soft cloth cut from a t-shirt. The oval of  track and transformer are from a Bachmann set.

Cigar Box Train CaseThe best thing about this? It made some friend very happy over over Christmas. It doesn’t hurt that the mother and grandmother are both English born and bread. Yes, that is why the British OO outline locos and cars. The young daughters in the family were thrilled. Who said girls don’t like trains? And with it all packaged up in a very nice box, it will make for a fun and attractive Christmas tradition.

Christmas Fun

Christmas ToysMy new desk is fast becoming a gathering spot for little toys. Seems the spirit of Christmas means time for fun. A dancing flower, musical slingshot reindeer and a happy winter candle holder are all just part of the fun. And let’s not even talk about the food …