- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Children young and old were all aboard for the Painter Family Trains display at the Waldorf West library on Saturday and Monday. Children got a chance to see the display and have a special train-themed story time, too.
“We centered the story time around the exhibit,” said Glenda Fields, children’s librarian.
Fields said it was nice to have the story time as a “reinforcement of the exhibit.”
Children listened as stories about trains were read to them by Fields and Patricia Bowie, associate children’s librarian.
Bowie is a member of the Charles County Board of Education.
They sang songs about trains and got the opportunity to use construction paper, scissors and glue to create their own train art projects.
Bowie said 189 children participated during the special story times Saturday.
Prior to story time, Elijah Gallagher, 5, and his brother David, 3, spent some time looking at the train display.
Elijah said he liked that there was a fair among the many scenes in the display.
After story time, the two boys spent a little more time with the display where David, already a fan of Thomas the Tank Engine, watched as a Thomas train, one of several trains on the display, chugged along a track and through a tunnel.
Adults had just as much fun as the children, though they didn’t get to do a craft.
“I’m not a train fan, but I just love it,” Mary O’Grady of Waldorf said about the display.
The Painter family has put its family trains in the public eye for several years, beginning with events in their hometown of Indian Head.
John Painter said his father started collecting trains in the 1950s, and many family members became involved over the years.
Within the last five years, Painter, who has taken the lead on the train display, said the display moves to more locations around town, including schools.
The majority of the display represents scenes that have been or are currently part of Charles County. There is a carnival portion of the display that many see as a good representation of the Charles County Fair, equipped with pig races and amusement rides.
Among other county attractions is a small replica of the Waldorf 301 Drive-in Theater.
This year, Painter said, he added a sign for the theater that is a replica of the drive-in’s original sign. He worked from an original photograph of the theater’s sign.
Changes to the display are usually minor and, for the most part, include replacing old parts.
Painter said it surprises him how many people who have seen the display over the years notice the changes. Many also notices things they hadn’t before. There are so many things happening in the miniature town that it’s not always easy to see it all on one visit.
The Painters have an activity sheet with clues to help people find some of the things. Included in the display is Batman, his bat signal and a spider with a “bug” in its grips.
Painter laughed with one visitor as she picked up on the joke that instead of an actual insect, the spider has a Volkswagen Bug in its grips.
“I can’t imagine the amount of work it must have taken to put all this together,” O’Grady said.
The display itself took many years and is still a work in progress as the family thinks of new things to add and hears suggestions from the community.
Getting the display set up for the public to see takes less time than it appears.
Painter said it takes three people 45 minutes to set up.
The display left the Waldorf llibrary Monday evening and will pop up again Wednesday for a special event for the Judy Center at Eva Turner Elementary School in Waldorf.