12 Days of Christmas Spirit
Jim Bennett’s love for model trains is pretty evident.
“It’s a great hobby,” Bennett said. “I repair them, too. What’s really fun is you get something out of somebody’s attic for years and then make it run.”
A year ago he came up with the idea of putting his personal collection of Lionel trains on display in December.
Last year was his first year, and the response he received from people who came to see it made him want to have the display again, Bennett said.
He said his favorite thing about having his collection on display is the reaction he receives from people who see it.
“People think I’m doing them a favor—well, it’s nice for myself, too,” Bennett said. “I live in an apartment. I wouldn’t have any means to do something like this there. You know, that’s the fun I have in it is sharing with people.”
This year he made the display a little bigger.
“Everything I have is from the late 1940s to the early 1950s,” Bennett said. “It’s two tables and then I made this ramp from some concrete blocks.”
The trains run on a three-rail track, which travels uphill on bricks and rocks from a bricklaying job he did.
“I’m semi-retired but I did a job last summer for Pastor Nebel and we used that rock on his house, so he let me keep some of the rock for the display,” Bennett said.
There is a church he has with his display loaned to him from First Baptist Church of which he is a member.
“The kids used to put their money in that when they had a birthday,” Bennett said. “If you were 5, you’d put five pennies in it. We kind of restored that somewhat and they let me bring that out here to put the railroad on.”
Bennett runs the train Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 to 11:15 a.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he runs the track from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at Stewart Hall in the United Presbyterian Home.
“The people around here—that’s their memory of Christmas, is the Christmas tree having a train run around it,” Bennett said.
Bennett is already making plans for the train display next year.
“It will be easier next year because I’ll mark everything the way I have it laid out,” he said.
After his train is tucked away for next year, Bennett will continue working on other model trains through the Washington County Model Railroad Club, of which he has been a member for 20 years.