Local man celebrates Christmas with model train set

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GREENVILLE—Lee Stanley started setting up his Christmas train about 10 years ago.

After his retirement, Stanley, 81, took on Christmas trains as a new hobby. He’d been collecting model trains since he was a child, and received his first train in 1954. It didn’t hurt that he had a lot of extra time on his hands in the colder months without golf too.

“I have more trains downstairs than I could ever hope to ever run at one time in my whole life,” he said. “After I retired from teaching and only worked part-time for the Arcanum Police Department, I said, ‘I need something else to do with my time.’ And you can’t play golf in the winter.”

This year, Stanley’s Christmas layout includes two train engines, a 16-house Christmas village and a Christmas trolly. It’s about 7 ft. by 6 ft. in size. Set up usually starts close to Thanksgiving, and he usually leaves it up until January.

In a non-pandemic year, Stanley usually puts a sign outside of his home to welcome people in to enjoy the display. However, he hasn’t done that the past two years.

Stanley usually travels to train shows to add to his collection, and more recently due to the pandemic he said he’s been shopping at Sweet Anne’s in downtown Greenville for village houses. The pandemic put a halt to most train shows in the area.

Due to his large collection of trains, he changes up his Christmas displays each year.

“At first I would just put it all up there,” he said. “Well it got so crowded, I didn’t like it. I had too many up there.”

Stanley said he doesn’t see himself slowing down on his lifelong hobby any time soon.

“It’s a good hobby,” he said. “When will I stop? Who knows. I don’t aim to stop any time soon.”

Now, he’s on to his next potential project.

“I have the Spirit of 1776 train, which is 13 cars,” Stanley said.” I’m thinking about putting up an American Fourth of July train.”

Abigail Miller / Editor

Abigail Miller is a Greenville native, Kent State graduate, writer, crocheter, shopaholic and friend. Contact Darke County Now Reporter Abigail Miller at amiller@darkecountynow.com.

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