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> Tom Wilson

The train collector

or Gordon Wilson ’62, ’69, music has been his profession since he graduated from college. Although he has retired and no longer conducts music, he continues to conduct something else: model trains.

Wilson started collecting model trains at age three, but in college he dropped the hobby. When he returned to Glassboro in 1967 to complete a master’s degree in music education, he became friends with Professor Edwin Avril.

The Music Department had little practice space in the bottom of Bunce Hall where it was housed, so Wilson often practiced at Avril’s home. One day, Wilson noticed Avril’s extensive model train collection. The collection impressed Wilson, and re-ignited his childhood passion. Soon, the two were sharing train tales. “We would practice our music, and play with the trains when we were done,” said Wilson.

Avril introduced Wilson to the Train Collectors Association (TCA). In 1976, Wilson joined the TCA and also began writing for several model train publications. He wrote Greenberg’s Guide to Lionel, part of the highly respected Greenberg series of collector’s guides.

In 1988, Wilson retired from teaching music at Pitman High School and moved to Arizona. He began editing his region’s TCA newsletter, and became president of the region in 1994. In 1998, Wilson was elected national president. He travels extensively to meet with the TCA’s regional offices, and works as editor of the TCA newsletter.

Wilson continues to collect and operate trains himself. His personal train setup takes up three and a half rooms of his home. “Some collectors leave their trains in a box,” he says, “but you can’t use or see a train in a box.”

You won’t find this caboose in Gordon Wilson’s collection, but you’ll find smaller ones just like it—he’s been collecting since he was three years old.

from summer ’00

 
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