Most of the trains were bought between 1954 and 1957, all of them in the American Flyer series of trains, made by the A.C. Gilbert Company. The collection included freight trains and passenger cars, as well as the many accessories and buildings to make up the layout.
Edward Lucker was already grooming his son Alan and daughter Nancy to carry on the tradition at the time. Edward said the first train was bought before their first child was born.
“We figured we’d give our son a train set,” Lucker said, “but our first born turned out to be a girl, so we decided to continue with the trains anyway, and she loves them.”
Lucker said the two kids had done a lot of the work to set up the trains that year.
“We might try and get them to do it all next year,” he said.
Lucker was an employee of Bendix Corporation in Sidney, known today as Amphenol. He said the family invited over as many people as possible, particularly children, to see the yearly display.
“It gives the kids a chance to see something that’s fun,” he said, adding that a few years earlier a school bus full of kids came by to see the display.
The train set was left up a different length of time each year.
“It pretty much depends on the tree,” he said, “as long as the tree looks good and keeps its needles.”
Members of the Lucker family have since passed on or moved out of the area, and an effort to find out if the Christmas train tradition was kept was unsuccessful at this time. Hopefully it can be determined at a later date.
This weekend: A 1923 Christmas celebration.
Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at email@example.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.