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Amid The Relics
We Came, We Saw, and We Conquered - What Next?
Once upon a time at the turn of the century, there was a man named Joshua. He produced toy trains for little boys.
Over the years, Joshua made trains in many shapes and sizes. The big Standard gauge Blue Comets, beautiful Hiawathas, and the most famous of them all the Super Chief Santa Fe in all of its red and silver splendor.
These wonderful trains became the favorite toys of nearly every boy for more than 50 years, and every one of them was called Lionel.
Every little boy wanted toys that resembled the mighty trains that moved the country. In those days, railroads were part of the landscape and trains provided a massive demonstration of force and speed. America was in love with trains and America's little boys were in love with toy trains.
However, in the sixth decade of the century, the little boys no longer played with their Lionels. Race cars, airplanes, and space ships won the hearts of the new generation.
Most of the Lionels were put to rest in attics, cellars, and garages - the graveyards of childhood dreams. Many of the old Lionels were given away, and many were thrown away. The Lionels that weren't destroyed were ignored. For 20 years, these relics lay buried.
When the boys became men, they realized they had lost something of value. The desire to find their toys inflamed them. An army was formed to search for the long-buried Lionels.
Organizations were established. Books and catalogs were printed to let the army know which of the old relics were the most desired, and ads were placed in newspapers to let the world know of the army's mission. Hot, dusty attics were searched. Cold, moldy cellars were swept. The contents of damp garages were hauled into the sunlight and scrutinized.
High bounties were paid for many of the relics that were preserved in their original condition. Old drug stores, old hardware stores, and other places where the relics had been sold were searched for forgotten signs, boxes, even wrappings. Every piece of Lionel history that could be uncovered was preserved by the soldiers.
A competition to see who had the most Lionels soon began. The army held meetings throughout the land to display, trade, or sell the spoils of the hunt but only after keeping the best of their finds for themselves.
Thousands of soldiers attended these meets to see and buy the meticulously cleaned and displayed relics. A grading system was established to rate the pieces. Many of the trains that had been discovered in poor condition were restored to their original form.
A fraternity developed among the soldiers. To them, each train meet represented all of the Christmases of years gone by. These meets were truly happy occasions.
The years passed. The best trains were bought and kept the the soldiers. There were no more Lionels buried in attics, forgotten in cellars, or moldering in garages. The army was victorious.
The soldiers returned home and built shrines to display their relics. Beautiful layouts were created to honor the original intent of the toys. The meets were filled with new replicas of the old trains. No longer would the bounties of the great hunt fill the halls. The old Lionels were gone again.
But what will happen when the soldiers die? Will their children's children understand the true worth of these treasures, or will the trains gather dust, and return to attics and cellars to await the arrival of a new army?
Where have all the Lionels gone? Gone to graveyards everywhere! When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?
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