I inherited my uncle’s train set from before World War II, and I took good care of it. I remember coming home from school and just being so excited because my dad would have put the basics up, and then he and I would put the train set together. We’d put the little buildings out, and these little metal figures that were skating on mirrors, and put the snow down.
I walked into this museum, for the first time, somewhere around 1957. I was about 4 years old when my father brought me. I remember it being a sort of dark, dusty, cranky place, but the feeling, as I remember it, was walking into a place and feeling the past. And maybe it was because it was a little dark and dank and dusty and all that, but these great locomotives, these great cars here, gave me a sense of the past. Having a pretty vibrant imagination as a child, I took the time to allow myself to [be] transported back into time to imagine what it would have been like to ride on this train during the Civil War, or to be a worker here, where they built the locomotives. Rather than being the kind of guy whose imagination launches a thought into the future, my imagination always went in the reverse and launched me into the past. My parents took me to places like Mount Vernon, to all the Civil War battlefields, to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell. So I fell in love with the idea of history — not necessarily railroad history, but history in general.