As I wrote in Of Comfort Zones and Old Friends, my childhood was not what one would call memorable in an uplifting sense. Compared to many of my friends and family, I have few actual memories of my early childhood. Many of the memories I do have are fabrications based on stories and photographs.
Take my favorite childhood toy as an example. I say favorite because it is the one that means the most to me and the one I most clearly remember. It was also the most durable. It had to be, or I would not remember the toy itself, only the stories.
My first Christmas was only a few months after my birth. Still, my father decided I needed an electric train set. He was so determined to see that Santa brought me a brand-new Lionel train; he worked a part-time job for weeks to pay for it. And, being a dutiful father, he wanted to make certain it worked before he let me see my new toy. Of course, the fact I could not see it until Christmas did not mean no one saw it or played with it.
Mom swore for two weeks before Christmas Dad would set up the train and put it through its paces after I was in bed. He was such a perfectionist he tested it for hours at a time.
Yes, I am certain he was just making certain he could operate it properly, as it would be several years before I would be old enough to play with it by myself. Whatever the reality, my train had a few trips around the Christmas tree before I ever saw it.
Of course, the best thing about the train was how well it was built. They made toys like that to last, and by the time I was old enough to set it up and play with it myself, the little sucker was still chugging. Otherwise, I wouldn’t really remember it.
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