WOW! That was all I could say as I stood there, marveling at the display of toy trains. I had never seen such a display: Dozens of them, running in all directions. Over miniature mountains, through tunnels, stopping here and there to fill up with water or load miniature bundles of firewood, whistling, 1)tooting, it was amazing. A giant room of nothing but trains, running and working. Some looked like they were going to run into one another, but just in time they would2)duck into a hidden 3)pass and come out on the other side, climbing a steep 4)grade toward a forest of trees. I couldn’t imagine what this must have cost, 5)never mind the enormous amount of time to build and put it together.
I had been fishing close to the shore at the 6)point in the lake where this man had a huge castle-like house. He
owned the whole point 7)adjacent, on one side, to the boy’s camp, and on the other, the girl’s. He allowed kids from the camps to come over to watch and run the trains. He also made sure that kids from children’s homes were picked up by private bus to come spend the day enjoying the trains from time to time.
He had seen me and walked down to the waters’ edge to chat with me as I 8)baited and took a few fish off the lines. He asked me if I’d like to have a cold drink or soda and see his toy train collection. I had seen the house for years standing 9)majestically on the point and had wondered about who lived there and what they did. This was my chance to find out.
The tops of the mountains each had a gold cross; one was of 10)the Crucifixion. One of the station houses had a 11)manger and Christmas scene behind it. Oddly there was a building with a sign on it that said, “Orphanage”. Scanning the room’s magnificent furnishings I noticed a beautiful 12)armoire, elegantly hand carved from giant 13)Lebanese 14)cedar with glass doors. Something that puzzled me was the two or three pairs of shirts and pants hanging in it on display. 15)Tattered shirts and pants that were a boy’s size. Small shoes too, stuffed with paper and cardboard. The holes were obvious.
Musing, I asked, “There’s a story here, isn’t there?” He replied, “Funny you figured it out. How did you do it?”
“Well, there are too many things that an 16)hobbyist would not have displayed here.”
He went on to tell me about his early years in an orphanage and school. Before he was adopted out to a nice, but very poor family, they would go to town from the orphanage. He would see the train displays in the store windows and parents buying their children those, as well as other nice toys. He never got anything for the holidays except a piece of fruit. They were always cold in the winter, too.
After he was adopted they worked hard to just have the necessities of life. In school he always had the poorest of clothes and the most 17)meagre 18)fare to eat—and little of it. The other children had everything they could want and often teased him about his clothes and food.
He looked at me and said, “I 19)dismissed their actions long ago as just being kids. But I don’t want a needy child in this area to ever go without playing with trains, or having fun things to do, or a place to do them.”
“These crosses are 20)tributes to my parents, who were killed when I was small; my wonderful wife; the kind couple who raised me; the kind teachers who helped me learn and gave me special treats from time to time when others wouldn’t share; and Jesus, who led me to success and rewards beyond my wildest dreams.”
There I was standing, getting the amazing story of this place I had walked past for so many years.
As I sat reading the headlines “Successful Businessman Leaves Legacy and Perpetual Foundation to Area Children”, I just couldn’t hold back the tears. He’d joined his wife, parents, friends, and children.