EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – Just like the calendar, every December going back to his boyhood in a finished basement in Cleveland, OH, John Spall can’t wait to set up his ‘O’ gauge Lionel trains for Christmas, then leave them up as long as possible.
“They would set it up every Thanksgiving Day holiday,” he recalls. “Over the years it grew and expanded.”
Spall was the oldest of five kids who used to watch his dad and uncle set up a new layout every year.
It didn’t take long.
Once he and his wife Joan got their own place the trains started running again and haven’t stopped since.
“So the Christmas season doesn’t arrive until you have the tree up and there’s a train running around it?” asks a guest.
“Yes,” he affirms. “That’s the tradition of trains in our family.”
Lest you think their living room is the only place trains run, John often invites his guests into a new addition, a whole room specifically devoted to a collection of toys that spans railroad and transportation history.
“Keeping busy with trains is not a problem for me,” he smiles.
Then his wife Joan shouts from another room, “You mean playing with trains.”
“Okay. It’s playing with trains,” he laughs. “That part never goes away.”
So what did he get for Christmas?
A Baby Blue Comet set from the 1930s along with some other train stuff his wife found to wrap up.
They also found some more rail cars for the ‘G’ scale circus train this year.
Look for volume or detail.
It’s all here, and it all runs.
“Everything in here,” Spall confirms. “Everything in here has been cleaned, tested, and run. All of the cars are ready to use.”
So the tree and the Christmas layout will have to come down sometime.
“I don’t want to take it down,” John admits.
John heads up a model train group that calls itself the Toy Train Operating Society – Sooner Division.
They have a show coming up in February, much of it extending from this huge roundhouse where every train you see is rolling stock, and only the Christmas trains run extra late.
“I enjoy seeing what we do each year.”
Head to the Toy Train Operating Society website for more information on them and their events this year.