Generosity Rewarded: How a free train ride turned into J.W. Lewis’ dream home.

LEXINGTON, OKLAHOMA -- The train is going to run for at least another weekend.

The lights will flicker and Santa will sing through the first snow of 2019 because J.W. Lewis wants to make sure every kid who wants a free ride gets one.

"I just like trains and I love kids," he says.

If you were a kid in 1956 you might remember this little train and its short run around the Queen Wilhelmena Lodge in the Kiamichi Mountains.

J.W. put it back together for kids parties.

He chuckles and says, "I'm always doing something."

We first visited with Lewis in 2003 as he began his restoration of an old Burlington Northern caboose.

Even as a mostly retired builder and contractor Lewis is always busy with some kind of project.

A visitor asks, "Do you like guests or is it that you can't sit still?"

"Yes," he replies with a laugh.

The nice thing about J.W. and his train is that he's never once charged for tickets.

"A lot of people did things for me when I was a child and didn't charge," says Lewis. "It's my turn."

The kids parties, the family gatherings, even weddings; he might take a donation but not often.

So how man free rides did it take?

How many 'one more times around the track'?

He doesn't know.

But one day a couple of years ago J.W. received an unexpected return on his generosity, basically the cabin that's now his home.

"It's roomy and spacey," he says.

A former customer who's child had once received a free ride offered up some prime spruce logs he had lying around from an abandoned project.

Their owner sold them at what we'll call an extreme discount and Lewis knew just what to do.

He tore down his old double wide trailer and built his dream house.

"I've always wanted to build a log cabin," says J.W.

The inside is decorated a lot like the outside, Christmas everywhere you look.

J.W. isn't ready to take it down yet either, not when that spirit of generosity is still flavoring the air like a fresh batch of cookies., and warming a snowy night with the idea of what goes around sometimes really does comes around.

J.W. Lewis lives on Flat Armadillo Road south of Lexington.

He's promised to keep his train running and the Christmas lights on through the first weekend of January.

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