Throwback Thursday – Electric Trains

tmp_11092-Screenshot_2015-12-10-19-09-48602805926Instead of a throwback post this week, I’m posting a really old picture that was among my Dad’s things when we closed up his house so he could move to assisted living.  The young man in the picture is me with a set of electric trains I received for Christmas.  The picture was taken in my Mom and Dad’s first apartment in New Haven.  I would guess that the year is 1950, which would make me six years old.  I can tell you for absolute certain that the train is an American Flyer, made by A.C. Gilbert. A.C. Gilbert was a leading toy company in the 30s and 40s,tmp_11092-Erector-Super-Construction-Set-11375157490 best known for the introduction of the Erector Construction Sets. The also made scientific toys like chemistry sets and microscopes. In 1938, they bought American Flyer and began building electric trains under that name. Following the end of the second World War, they produced a meticulously proportioned line of trains that operated on a track with two rails, unlike those of the Lionel trains which had a middle rail to carry the current. I’d like to say that I had an American Flyer because of its realism but the truth is it was because my grandfather, Grover Cleveland Pfeiffer, worked for A.C. Gilbert in New Haven, CT.

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They say that of all the senses, the sense of smell is most directly connected to memory and I believe it. American Flyer train engines featured real smoke produced by putting a couple of drops of cedar-scented smoke fluid into the smoke stack of the engines. Looking at the picture I can practically smell the sweet aroma of the smoke as the train winds around the oval track. Looking around … and looking back … I’m glad I grew up with electric trains, not iPads. After all, who want to remember the smell an iPad when they’re 71?

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