American Flyer Displays & History

Larrabee's Hardware Store, Amsterdam, N.Y.


By Emil Suda

It was a few days after Christmas in 1961, when I was taken out of the house by my mother to go with her as she had to run some errands in town.  It was on that morning we stopped at the Larrabee Hardware Store in Amsterdam.  Just inside the main door, I noted that the store was changing back to normal as the Christmas decorations were being taken down.  A few feet in from the door as an American Flyer Layout, which I now know to be a 28179 layout.  I was then told to remain there while my mom took care of business further inside the store.  Standing there, I observed that display in detail noting that the mountain and tunnel were colored in earth tones with splashes of red and green and some lichen was attached.  Carefully touching the mountain, I found it to be soft and it had some "give."   Paper Mache' perhaps?

I also noticed that the trees were not like the Life Like trees I had which had flat bases.  On these, the trunks fitted into pre drilled holes.   And of course there was something new about the display - the new Pikemaster track.   It was impressive for sure over traditional track.   It appeared to be somewhat less sturdy, but it came across with a realistic look. 

Finally seeing the train, it was obvious that Gilbert cheapened the line as plastic was dominant, especially those new couplers. 

I came back to reality when my mom returned and it was time to go.  I spoke up about the layout saying how well detailed it was.  She mentioned to me how it has to be perfect because it is a sample and samples have to be perfect.