Senior shares childhood glee for trains

CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON/The Daily Sentinel—Jim Batten and wife, Suzanne, show some of his Lionel trains, which they have put on display at The Commons of Hilltop. Batten said he received his first train when he was a toddler and that his reaction was the same when Suzanne gave him a train when he was in his 50s.



The Grand Valley Model Railroad Club presents its 25th annual Christmas Train Show for 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through Jan. 5 at Cross Orchards Historic Site, 3073 F Road.

Admission is $7 for families, $4 for adults or $1 for a child 12 and under.

Jim Batten turned out the lights. The silhouettes of sophisticated railway passengers shone through the illuminated windows of the Santa Fe Super Chief replica.

Look close. You could almost see the darkened profiles of Humphrey Bogart, Dean Martin and Judy Garland seated on “The Train of the Stars,” as it was called.

Batten turned the lights back on, bringing everyone back to reality, as the Super Chief continued its clickety-clack, clickety-clack loop atop the table.

The Super Chief is one of four Lionel O Gauge toy trains that Batten, 70, has collected throughout his life. They will be displayed through January at The Commons of Hilltop, 625 27 1/2 Road, by appointment only. Call 244-0690.

The Battens are residents of the nearby The Cottages of Hilltop.

“When Jim opens that door he’s 6 years old again,” Suzanne Batten said of the door leading to their train display room. 

Jim has loved trains since he was a child in Philadelphia. He knows the history and owns the nostalgia.

“A steam engine is the most incredible working machine ever invented,” he said.

Jim received his first train as a gift when he was 2, and Suzanne got him the Pennsylvania Railroad collectible when he was in his 50s.

He reacted the same.

Although Jim and Suzanne have lived in Grand Junction for two years. “Jim said they haven’t run for two years. Maybe we should put them up,” Suzanne said.

The couple spent about a week building the display and opened the room in early December.

“It’s amazing what this does for people,” Jim said. “They wait in line sometimes for me to get here. ... Every single person who has left has said, ‘Thank you.’ ”


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