When Mom and Dad moved out of their home of 44 years and into a senior apartment, we all knew that his trains were going to have to go. Sure, there was closet space for a few of them, but there was so much more than he could take along. Discount-store N scale from the late ’60s. O scale trolleys built from LaBelle wood kits. A smattering of HO scale items. Plasticville structures by the boxload. And lots and lots of American Flyer S gauge. American Flyer was his first love, and when I was very young, it became my first love, too.
The engine was peeking out of a box under Paul’s table at the Batavia show as I walked past. I stopped, and gently pulled it out for a closer look. Paul looked decidedly uncomfortable. It was easy to see why.
It’s an American Flyer 316, an S gauge model of a Pennsylvania Railroad K-5 Pacific. Manufactured about 1955, beautiful die-cast shell, smoke unit, knuckle coupler, even an air-chime whistle. Nice engine, or at least it started out that way. Then somebody came along and plastered swastikas all over it. Paul picked it up with a bunch of other AF items, some similarly decorated, at an estate sale. He could offer no explanation for why someone would do this, and neither can I.