Griffith Christmas trains back on display

Stephanie Backus/FULTON SUN photo: There were few things the late Frank “Pooley” Griffith enjoyed more than his train collection, and sharing it with others. From 1-4 p.m. on Dec. 18 at 4791 County Rd. 105, Griffith’s family and friends will continue that tradition when they once again open his Christmas train display to area residents. For additional photos of the train displays see Page 11.

Stephanie Backus/FULTON SUN photo: There were few things the late Frank “Pooley” Griffith enjoyed more than his train collection, and sharing it with others. From 1-4 p.m. on Dec. 18 at 4791 County Rd. 105, Griffith’s family and friends will continue that tradition when they once again open his Christmas train display to area residents. For additional photos of the train displays see Page 11.

There were few things the late Frank “Pooley” Griffith enjoyed more than his train collection, and sharing it with others.

From 1-4 p.m. on Dec. 18 at 4791 County Rd. 105, Griffith’s family and friends will continue that tradition when they once again open his Christmas train display to area residents.

“We do it primarily to keep his spirit alive,” said friend Mike Lewis, who attended many train shows with Griffith and has helped with the display for five years. “He loved kids and he loved sharing his trains.”

David Nelson, Griffith’s nephew, said the collection started off as a single 10x5 table at another location.

“That wasn’t big enough, so we moved it out here to the work shed, and then he knocked out some offices to put in more tables,” Nelson said. “Now we have close to 70 trains that run at one time.”

He said his uncle was always interested in trains because “they were a part of his youth.”

“They kept him young,” Nelson said. “He always felt like there’s a kid inside of all of us.”

Lewis, who started driving Griffith to train shows when he was no longer able, agreed with that assessment, recalling the year they ordered the circus train and circus set.

“He was 75 then and I was probably 50, and we put it together in one night like we were 5 years old,” Lewis said. “I would take him to the shows and we would load up the car because we bought so much.”

He said his favorite part of continuing the display after Griffith’s death in August 2008, is watching other older people relive their childhoods through Griffith’s hobby.

“There are men in their 70s and 80s and their grandkids will say, ‘Let’s go,’ and they’ll say, ‘Not yet,’” Lewis said. “They love it because that’s what they used to play with when they were kids.

“I think it’s important to see how they come out and wonder (at the collection).”

Nelson said his favorite out of all the displays — which also include mountain scenes, farms, battles, towns and fairs — is the S-gauge train table.

“They’re a little more cantankerous, but they’re a little more true to size as far as the cars and buildings go,” he said. “When they get to rolling and smoking, they put out beautiful smoke, so it looks like a real train.”

Like Lewis, he said his favorite part about sharing the collection each year is “seeing other people enjoy something I helped build.”

“It’s for those who want to feel young again, and for those who are already young,” Nelson said. “For the kids, when they hear all the noise and see all the lights, it’s quite a scene — it just fascinates them.

“For the older ones, we always have people come up and say, ‘When I was a kid I had a train just like that.’ It brings back the good old days, and I think that’s what a lot of people need these days.”

To get to the Christmas train display from Fulton, make a right on St. Eunice and follow it all the way to the end of the gravel. Take a left at the end of St. Eunice. Approximately 1 mile down, on the left, there will be signs for Griffith Poultry Farm and the train display. If you reach the bridge, you’ve gone too far.

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