model train set on track

Christmas and TCA

e*Train Issue: Jul 2021   |   Posted in:

By Jim Alexander, TCA Webmaster                     Winter 2017

In our heritage, toy trains and Christmas are intertwined, and no more so than in the publications of TCA. Here are some illustrations gleaned from our websites, dating back to TCA’s earliest years.

TCA’s first mention of Christmas can be seen in the first issue of Train Collectors Quarterly in January 1955, originally mimeographed on green paper with no photographs. Member Evan Middleton wrote an article entitled Recollections: “My first train was a little wind-up given me in 1908, at Christmas.”

Nearly a decade later, TCQ was still in black and white, with some illustrations now enhancing the publication. Then President Jim Fry started his January 1964 Christmas Past column by noting that: “Christmas is the time for children. as we keep hearing the grown-ups telling each other! For most of us, Christmas re-kindles the desires and memories of our formative years when ‘The Day’ was symbolized by a fragrant evergreen reaching to the ceiling and with the universal Toy Train encircling the ‘loot’.”

An outstanding review of the effect of toy trains at Christmas can be viewed in the January 2014 Train Collectors Quarterly, in which Editor Mark Boyd assembled a series of photos and remembrances from members. The cover featured a photo of former TCA President Tom Jaworowski, dressed in Santa garb at the National Toy Train Museum. Other features included a major piece by another former President, Clem Clement, on toy train setup work at the National Christmas Tree, as well as an article on American Flyer Christmas trains.

Our own e*Train discusses Chistmas in no fewer than 115 times, with many more photos in articles such as one inspired by Paul Wasserman. In its earlier format, e*Train often featured rotations of Christmas cars, as discussed in this article in the winter 2015 issue.

Members may stimulate their own memories by searching through our e*Train archives here.

Most certainly some future researcher will find yet a larger compilation of Christmas memories and toy trains in our printed and electronic publications, and in the holdings of the National Toy Train Museum and Library.