I may be on the verge of a Christmas Miracle!
When I was a child I used to go to my grandfathers house (on my mom's side) and would play for hours with his Lionel trains. Most of the trains were purchased right around 1950 and there were a TON of them!! Cattle cars, aquarium cars, tons of various locos, bridges, switching tracks... EVERYTHING!
I have so many wonderful memories of those trains.
Long story short (or long)... over time many were destroyed and upon my grandfather passing twenty plus years ago, all that remained of the trains were taken by a member of the family! (It was a HUGE controversy that split the family for YEARS!) There was a rumor (unconfirmed) that a large portion of them were sold around Chicago for pennies on the dollar out of spite. Some were kept, but there were others that were sold and just discarded!!
For years I have been setting up my fathers Lionel trains under the tree for my son. I have cleaned them, tuned them and they are beautiful. I decided that I would work with my cousin to try to remember what had been lost from our youth and slowly I have been trying to re-build the collection!
Yesterday I was in the local train shop and spotted something on the shelf towards the back of the store. It was the correct year and model of a train car I was missing!! There was something very specific about this train however that caught my eye. Not wanting to spend the money ($85) I left for home. Last night I spent better part of two hours doing research on this particular train car! The make... the model... the variations.
When I started doing the research... I expected to find that the part that originally caught my eye in the store was standard for that particular car and the year... but what I discovered made my jaw hit the ground! I found out that the part in question isn't an original Lionel part! As a matter of fact, that specific piece that I remembered from my grandfather's train doesn't exist in the Lionel world... anywhere!
I can't believe this but after 20+ years of being lost, I can say with almost 100% certainty that the train car that is sitting on the shelf at the little store in Indianapolis is in actuality MY GRANDFATHER'S TRAIN!!!!
I can't even fathom the odds that someone had repaired a car from 1953 in exactly the same fashion, using exactly the same "non-standard" part! I google searched for hours... I looked on ebay... I looked at train shope website... I looked in my Lionel reference book. That part simply doesn't exist!!
I am finishing my work for the day and at 2pm when my son gets home I am driving straight to that store!
I'm hoping that at 3pm I will be handing that car... the car that was in our family since 1953, lost in Chicago and re-discovered in a little train shop in Indianapolis, to my son for the first time.
I'm hoping I am right...
It would be a Christmas Miracle!