One of the traditional toys that boys in particular used to get every Christmas was an electric train. The boys may grow up, but if they are lucky, they never outgrow their love for their trains.
When we were young, our train set-ups weren't elaborate by any means. That's because daddy would rather spend the family money on foolish things like food and clothes.
But when you are older, you can spend your money on what you really want to, like a slice of your boyhood.
One of the most avid train buffs anywhere around is newsman Bert Case. His layout has evolved over they years, situated comfortably in a room dedicated to trains over his garage.
"Well this is what's called 'n-scale' model railroads," said Bert. "It's ‘n' scale for nine millimeters. That's how wide the tracks are."
Bert, like many of us kids of that day, got his first train set one Christmas morning.
"I got trains every Christmas when I was like 10, 11, 12.." said Bert. "That was the big thing at my house, to get some new cars, some new locomotives."
Bert's interest in trains sprang not only from Christmas mornings as a boy, however, but from train trips he'd take as a youngster to his grandfather's house in north Mississippi.
"We'd go to Batesville, Mississippi on the train, my mother and I , when I was very small," said Bert. "I was 7,8,9 years old. And that's where I'd get interested in trains. We'd ride the old number 3 steam train when we first started. And then we graduated to the 'City of New Orleans', which was the day train on the Illinois Central."
Bert has models of those trains he'd ride in his set up. As well as pretty much ever other major historic train that ever ran in Mississippi.
"There it comes. There it comes. It's running. The GM&O" said Bert.
And the trains for Christmas and the train trips to his grandfather's house have given Bert a grown-up interest in trains, too. Usually when he goes on vacation, he goes on a train.
Oh yeah, I still take train trips all over the United States," said Bert. "I've been anywhere you want to go in the United States from Seattle to Miami, from Boston to Los Angeles.
And when he's not out on the rails for real, he's back at his house on cold winter afternoons taking a pretend trip up in his train room.
"Cold Sunday afternoons, cold Saturday afternoons, when it's raining this is what I do," said Bert. "Come up here and play with the trains."
That was quite a present that Santa dropped down Bert Case's chimney all those years ago, that first train set, that in many respects, although it may not be the exact train, is still going around and around the tracks, all these Christmases later.
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