Lionel Train Set from Local Store
One of the classic images of Christmas time is a toy train running around the base of the tree. Scale model trains would choke on the bits of carpeting and pine needles under the boughs, so the best choo-choo for the task is a classic Lionel train. Some "O27 scale" trains sacrifice detail for durability, striking a balance between toy and model trains. Countless lifelong model train buffs got their start with Lionel train sets under their tree.
This set has a special Chicago link. Town House TV & Appliances ("Milwaukee & Oakton!") was a frequent advertiser on local TV & Radio. Their jingle became part of Chicago's soundscape, and every Christmas since the 70's they gave away these train sets. It's a cute starter set, featuring a boxcar lettered for the store and the many brands that they sold. This super sturdy Lionel train set is around 30 years old, and yet it powered up right away running smooth as silk - amazing!
Town House is gone now, another fallen flag to the might of big box retailers, but their memory lives on. When I mentioned to friends that I'd found this set at the thrift for $2, they each sang Town House's jingle through envious grins. I guess that holiday traditions come in many different forms.