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The Christmas Train

Submitted by Paul Vallow - December 20, 2016

Let me take you back sixty years, to a Christmas time that makes one think of a much slower paced time of life, where Christmas sales did not start the third Saturday of October. There was no on line ordering, nor any shopping malls to beckon you in. At that time, Minonk had many stores, and people shopped locally or from the mail order catalog for Christmas items. Stores were always coming up with a promotion to bring customers in.

This brings me to where, as a child, I saw what was thought to be the greatest customer draw of the Christmas season; an operating Lionel steam train going round and round a showroom window. Vernon Lamb was the manager of Kurrle's Department Store which was located where Pop's Sweet Shop is now.
Bringing customers in to register for the drawing to win the Lionel train set and shopping for Christmas gifts was the hope of the store. The train set had been bought locally at either Dahl's Gamble Store, Hewitt's Firestone or Miller Hardware. It was mounted on a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood, from Kent Lumber & Coal Company. It was displayed in the north front window of Kurrle's, where it ran during store hours.

Every day on the walk home from school, I would stop to register to win this train. It was a powerful representative of steam's finest hour, with its bright headlight, flashing side rods and white smoke puffing from the stack. Surely as many times as I had stopped and put my name in the box, this prize was going to be mine. At the appointed day and hour, the drawing was held. I did not win the drawing and even more disappointing, a girl won my train.