American Flyer Displays & History

Jordan Marsh Department Store, Boston, Massachusetts

Courtesy Robert Bruennig

   By Doug Wynne   

Jordan Marsh 1951 Layout Photo

I am the curly-haired lad in the striped jersey at the far right, standing chin-in-hands and looking oh, so wistful.  I was just about 5 1/2 years old when the picture was taken, and among the family archives there is a picture of me on Santa's lap, taken the same day, wearing the same jersey.  Because the picture is B&W, you can't tell that my hair is bright red.  For the first maybe ten years of my life, my wardrobe was heavy with long-sleeved jerseys, worn in all seasons to protect my fair skin from sunburn.  I even had to wear them at the beach!

It would be another two or three Christmases before Santa would bring me my first trains: an American Flyer Silver Bullet set.  My parents bought me freight cars to supplement the two coaches in the set, or it was the other way round.  The setup was a service station special from Western Auto in Dorchester, complete with cardboard trestle set and extra track to make an over-and-under figure eight.

Many years later, when I was recreating my original train set, those trestles were the toughest element to find in decent shape.  Two other boys in my neighborhood had AF trains, and we would set them up at my house, since I had the entire third floor to myself after my two (much) older brothers moved out.  Then we all gave our trains to the younger brother of one of our friends.  This boy had been stricken with polio some years before, and was about to embark on a series of reconstructive surgeries that would keep him housebound for a year or so.

My completely recreated AF set gets a little exercise now and then, but my toy train interest now is Pre-War, heavy (literally) on Lionel Standard Gauge.  I am now fabricating two portable layouts to take to schools, senior centers, VA hospitals, etc. Thanks again for the link and for bringing back so many memories.