Bringing Back Memories

Thursday, January 31, 2013
Joe Calvin turns on the switch to the American Flyer electric train which takes him back to 1947

Few things can make a grown man feel like a kid again than stumbling across a favorite boyhood toy.

For Rector attorney Joe Calvin, that toy is a 65-year-old American Flyer electric train he got as a 10-year-old back in May of 1947.

The train was stored in the garage of the Paragould home where Calvin and his wife, Sue, now reside, and when he ran across it recently, he decided to set it up to see if it would still run.

The years melted away and the excitement he felt as a boy returned as he unwrapped the finely-detailed steam locomotive engine, a coal car which bears the words "American Flyer Lines" and "New York Central System," and sleek red Pullman passenger cars.

Still in great shape, the two-rail track was pieced together and the cars carefully put into place. The switch was connected, and when Calvin turned the lever to "on," the train was true to its name and began to fly around the track. A beam of light shining from the front of the locomotive illuminated the way, just as it did all those years ago.

The diecast metal toy trains were not made during the wars years, but when production resumed in 1946, Calvin, like many other children, yearned to have one. Always industrious, he worked and saved his money with his eye on the purchase, which at that time, was $40.

It was a big amount for a boy to raise, and after he had squirreled away $30, his father, Everett, told him he would give him the last $10 if he would agree to get a passenger train.

It was an easy decision, and the train was ordered.

Calvin said he could hardly contain his excitement as he waited for the package to arrive. The brown box from Harrison Wholesale Company in Chicago was delivered to his father's downtown Rector business, Calvin Furniture Store.

Calvin may now have some gray hair and the years may be accumulating a little too quickly, but some of the joy of that special day obviously returns as he remembers opening that box.

Some other cars which came with the train are still in the Calvin garage, but somehow one has to believe they soon will make their way onto that track.

At 75, Calvin still practices law in Rector, where he grew up and lived for many years. But at the end of the work day, he makes his way home and up the stairs to the room where the train awaits to take him back in time.

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