Two Trains for Toby

I have been wanting to add two more trains to my toy train-set lay out. Since it is getting that time of year, I decided it was justified and well deserving to go and buy myself the two trains. The train store is a locally owned Hobby shop. They also host a Toy Train club which I am a member. Like any typical day, I walked into the store and Sam asked if I was going to be adding to my train lay out.

 “Why yes I am.” “I want to buy two more trains.“ “Oh and of course a special car in memory of Robbie.”

It has now been almost 20 years since I lost my Nephew Robbie in an unfortunate car accident. However his memory is restored each year when I celebrate the holidays with the train hobby which he was so fond of. This was a joy and interest we both shared.

I grab a cart and went to the aisle where the engines and cars are. There stood a young boy, I would guess his age to be around fourteen.  He was stocky built and wore a sweat shirt that read “I am a farmer”. He wore a pair of matching sweat pants and work shoes. I noticed he was looking at the same engine that I had been considering for the past few weeks. As I walked closer to him, he turns and causally looked at me and smiled. I selected the same engine off the shelf. I was studying the engine, and he says, 
 “This engine is a very powerful, it is one of the best on the market.”
I didn’t hesitate; I looked at him and stated, “It should be for what it costs.”

I placed the packaged engine in my cart along with a generous selection of cars.
He asked me how big my lay out is.
“I have two trains right now and I am going to be adding two more trains.”
I followed with an inquiry how big was his train set-up.

“Oh well, I have only one train and only have a tunnel.”
 “The track is very small, no buildings or trees just my tunnel.”
 “How rude I am.” He stuck out his hand,  “I am Toby.”

I shook his hand and told him, “ I am Jim.”
He reminded me of Robbie when he stuck out his hand and by the way he talked and how polite he was.

                                                   In the spirit of modelers, I asked what kind of a lay-out did he really want.
He began his calculations of which engines and track he would desire then determined the optimal car count and grading for hills and tunnel lengths.  He began showing me which pieces there in inventory he would like to have for his lay out.
As he wound down his design plans, I told him that would be one good lay out.
I asked him where he has his lay out set-up?

“ I have it in the basement, were my uncle made me a place for the trains.”

I remarked,  “So according to your shirt, are you a farmer?

“Oh yes sir, I guess so... I work for my uncle on his farm.” “He pays me what he can.”
“I have thirty dollars saved up.”

Keep saving, and some day you will be able to buy everything you want.

He smiled and said, “ I sure hope I will.” “My uncle is like a dad to me..... my dad left us when I was a little boy.”

I took a liberty and patted his shoulder then explained, “I raised my nephew when I was on the farm.” Before he could ask me anything about Robbie I changed the subject mentioning the long hours of farm work.

He said his Mom is going to be here soon but he wanted to go and play with Sam's trains in the basement before time to go, but he politely asked me to join him.

I thanked him but said I needed to finish shopping.

He stuck his hand back out, “ It was a pleasure meeting you Jim.”
“I enjoyed talking trains with you Toby.”

He left for the basement to play with the trains.

In an odd turn of events after meeting Toby, well I decided that I could go without my  train sets. I loaded everything he wanted for his lay out in my cart including the engine he wanted.
As I was checking out a lady walked into the store.
 “Excuse me sir, Sam have you seen my son?”

  “Yes  he is in the basement playing with the trains.”
She smiled and casually says,
 “He sure does like trains” as she walked toward the basement.

I payed for everything and loaded everything into a cart. Sam looked at me turning his head slightly.
 “What is it Sam?”

 “You already have all of this stuff, except for that engine.”

 “Well, this is for Toby.” “He reminds me so much of Robbie, so I decided that he needed it all more than I do.” “Besides Robbie would be proud of me for doing this.”

 “Oh yes! one more thing I will pay for a years membership in the club.”

Sam quickly chirped, “Oh no you won't, it’s on me.” Grinning, he summed it up, “He sure will be one happy boy.” “Here, Jim this is for you.” “That special car, just for Robbie.”

I thanked Sam, and told him how much it means to me.

Just then Toby and his mom came up from the basement. I asked Toby if he would like to help me to my car. He grabs the cart and pushed it to my car. As we were walking out of the store Sam smiled at me. Toby asked where to put it all in my car.

I placed my hand on his shoulder and looked him in the eye, ‘Toby, you put it all in your car.... this is for you.”

His mom looked at me. “Why are you doing this?”

 “Lets just say just because I want to.”

Toby had tears in his eyes and gave me a hug.“Thank you Jim, I will take  good care of it.”

 “I know you will Boy.”

His mom gave me a hug. “You just made one boy, a very happy boy.” “Thank you so much.

Toby smiled and kindly added, “Please say Hi to Robbie from me and tell him he has a great uncle.”
 “I will.” Mustering any scrap of remaining composure, I nodded and left for home.

Farm Boy

(To Be Continued)


  1. This is a great story and a wonderful thing you did. I hope the ‘to be continued’ part includes you continuing to play a part in Toby’s life, enjoying your train hobby with him. He can’t replace Robbie but he can ease the pain of losing him and continue to bring back good memories.

  2. I am the author,so here is a quick update. I see Toby when there are meetings, and sometimes he rides with me. We help each other with our train lay outs, and yes I did buy my two trains. I asked Toby to help me set them up. He is saving his money so he can add to his lay out.

    Farm Boy