So I started watching a video from a guy who goes to East Chicago and films the train movements around a steel mill. I wonderedif I could see it in Google Earth, so I fired it up and had a gander. Found it after only a few moments, and then realized that the place he's filming from is a stone's throw from the last place my parents docked their sailboat in the 1990s. Then I started looking at the local railroads, to see if there was anything interesting about them, and found myself looking at tracks downstate. Especially the CN line (which used to be ICG). Somewhere near Kankakee there's a wye which connects to a track that goes straight west, and that track has a couple of loops attached where there are grain elevators.
Finally ran out of curiosity and actually watched the video.
Then I saw something that reminded me of something: when I was a kid in the 1970s, I'd seen this toy on TV I really, really wanted: Matchbox-sized cars you charged up and then released, and an electric motor inside them would run them some distance.
Finally, after a birthday, I told my Mom that I wanted to use some birthday money to get a car and charger. She took me to the store (it was an Ace Hardware) to get it. Got home, opened the packages, eagerly went outside and sat on the patio, charging it up, and then off we go!
It went about five feet and stopped.
I remember that it didn't go very far because I thought, "Wait--is that all?" The commercials implied that the thing would go approximately three thousand miles on a charge, and I had expected the reality to be somewhat less--but a few feet? C'mon.
Got the car, plugged it in, charged it...and it wouldn't go. It wouldn't move under its own power. Nothing I did fixed it, and I was following the instructions. It was obvious that I'd gotten a defective one, so I went inside and told Mom what happened.
Mom was mad. (Not at me.) We went right back to Ace with the stuff. I was relieved; I'd get a new one that would work--but to my dismay, Mom simply returned it and didn't get a replacement.
One of those little tragedies everyone has in his childhood--but I couldn't remember the name of the product, until I happened to see a YouTube video about a Hot Wheels Sizzlers track--and then I remembered.
...so I spent I don't know how much time looking at various web sites about the damned cars, trying to remember which one I owned, however briefly. The pictures don't jog my memory, though. That's not really surprising considering that I had the thing for an hour at most. But my memory of that day is still pretty vivid, probably because the disappointment was so sharp.
Such a cool idea, especially to a kid aged--what, 7? 8? Pity it didn't work out better than that.