Earlier this week, I was inspired. It wasn’t because of Valentine’s Day, but it was because of Frank Riolo. He wrote a post yesterday about his love for toys, but more specifically, his love for toy trains. That was cool; I felt like I got to know him better than before. But he didn’t tell everyone how, exactly, he fell in love with trains. Well, let me tell you this completely true story about how he did.
Once upon a time, there was this book called “The Little Engine That Could.” Wikipedia says that an early version of the story was published in The New York Tribune on April 8th, 1906. True or not, through Frank’s meticulous journal keeping (I have read them), I found that he first read the story in 1907. He was -73 years young – an amazing feat in itself!
When Frank read this story, he was intrigued by the Little Engine. It just kept trying, and trying. Freud may have called the Little Engine delusional, had he ever read the story, but Frank thought of the Little Engine as aspirational. Indeed, suffixes aren’t everything.
Over the years, as Frank began to approximate his current age, +23, he spent many hours building a life-sized version of the Little Engine. (Frank had never been on a train). In 1962, he had completed his design of the Little Engine and submitted it for entry at the Seattle World’s Fair; he named his train “Gordon.”
He was denied entry to the fair and was reported for trademark/patent infringement.
Little did Frank know that “The Little Engine That Could” had actually been running for over a hundred years, and a vast network of trains currently spanned across the entire United States.
Peculiar? Yes. He was booked and given a “temporary, life-in-prison sentence.”