Back in 1968, Bob Laity received a train set as a Christmas present from his wife, Pat. Hundreds of sets later, the 63-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills retiree’s collection is still growing.
As a boy in his native New Jersey, Laity would spend time with a neighborhood friend who had a Lionel train set. That early exposure with scale model trains started a love of collecting that lasts to this day.
Laity admits that during his teenage years train sets took a back seat to “girls and cars,” but Christmas of 1968 brought him back to his old hobby.
While in New Jersey, Laity was a member of a model train club, so after arriving in Arizona he sought a new club and became a member of Sun and Sand N Trak club.
The club, which meets at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, provides a place for Laity to socialize with fellow collectors and a place where he can show his trains. He brings and runs several sets at weekly meetings as well as on the weekends when the club is open to the public.
Laity has no plans to complete his collection. “I’ll just add to it and sell off the stuff I don’t use,” he said.
When asked if the collection will eventually go to his grandchildren, he replied, “Yes, if I ever get any, yes.”