The all important box that awaited me one Christmas more than 50 years ago! Inside was the American Flyer 21130 Hudson and the Meteor freight set complete with two rail track with realistic simulated wood (plastic) ties ready to be set up in a figure 8 configuration. It was more than a single digit age younster could take. I was ecstatic! The locomotive was substantial, metal, and heavy. I could now (somewhat) join the railroading world of my parents and run my very own train! But it also seemed strange. The locomotive was black and lacked a smooth skin - unlike the yellow and gray beasts I saw roaming the tracks near my hometown station or rode behind on trips to Denver. Locomotives I would later remember as the E-8 streamlined diesels of my youth looked a lot different than this black locomotive with oversized wheels in the middle. I may have had a vague understanding of the passage of steam on the railroad and it would take some time for me to develop an appreciation for this type of locomotive design. I had no real world reference points for a Hudson locomotive other than those encountered as plastic toys in the doctor's office or as electric toy trains. Despite my joy in receiving this most important of all material gifts, I would sometimes cast a wishful eye at diesel electric toy locomotives.
The box has taken its hits over the years but remains in my possession, though now lacking many of its original contents and being somewhat defaced. The Hudson was put into service pulling the Meteor freight and would acquire proof its throttle was in the unskilled hands of a five year old engineer. My father, mother and sister also came to love this set and the many hours of entertainment it provided our family.