1940 Home Movie: Lionel Trains for Christmas!

Grandpa’s 1940 home movie of my dad’s Lionel train set, “The Santa Claus Special,” followed by mid-50’s clip of a set belonging to Dad’s cousin, Matt. My dad and his parents lived on the ground floor of 119-14 Seventh Avenue in College Point, NY, while Dad’s Aunt Eleanor and Uncle “Matt” (Matthias) lived on the second floor. For Christmas 1940, Uncle Matt, who was a carpenter, built a layout for Dad’s new electric train set. It sat on two sawhorses in the living room. Note the classic props, including the famous switchman or watchman popping out of his shelter for each passing train. Also note my father’s hand on the controls at the bottom of the frame in several scenes – he was 11 going on 12 at the time. In the mid-1950’s clip, Uncle Matt’s teenage son Matthias 3rd operates his set in the basement. Note that many of the props are from the set that belonged to Dad. Although the footage in this sequence is not as sharply focused, there is a much better view of the hand controls – quite a contraption, they were. Where are these trains now? Some of them wound up in the destructive little hands of wicked little me and my younger brother. After many staged train wrecks and head-on collisions, their battered hulks were discarded. What a shame – they’d be a treasure now. I’m not an expert on Lionel Trains – so I’m asking all you Lionel fans out there to please help me identify these models. Thanks!! 16mm Kodachrome photography by Gustave Martens. A YouTube Presentation by
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