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Tinplate Times Profile: Jack Windt

Tinplate Times interviews Sarasota attorney and longtime tinplate collector Jack Windt, TCA HR 65-1181. Jack, now 73, still maintains his own law practice. Jack graduated with a BS from the University of Tampa in 1956, and earned his law degree from Stetson University College of Law in 1959. Jack is a veteran having served in the United States Navy between 1951 and 1954. Jack is a 32 Degree Mason Shriner, Navy League Former President, Kiwanis Club Past President, Sarasota Optimist Club Member, and Jazz Club of Sarasota Past President. Jack is very proud to be the attorney for the "Doolittle Raiders," who conducted the famous bombing raid on Tokyo during WW II on April 18th, 1942.

Tinplate Times: Jack, tell us about yourself:

JW: I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan at the beginning of the Great Depression, but I have lived in Sarasota, Florida since 1950. Soon after moving to Sarasota, then President Eisenhower felt he had to activate the submarine reserve unit that I was in. Off I went to Korea for two wonderful years in a WW II submarine. After I was discharged I finished college and then went to graduate school and then to law school. I have practiced law in Sarasota since 1960.

Tinplate Times: Do you have any other hobbies besides toy trains?

JW: My other hobbies and interests are collecting antique toys and antique cars (I just sold 20 of them and I got out of the car hobby for now!) I also enjoy golf, fishing and scuba diving. I am very fortunate to live right on the water. I have my boat right outside the door.

Tinplate Times: When did you start into the toy train hobby?

JW: My beginnings with toy trains began in the 1930s. My father collected toy trains. Lionel was still making standard gauge at that time. He collected primarily old IVES, Boucher, Voltamp, C&F, and foreign trains. He sold his collection in the mid-1940s. A lot of it went to Dr. Glenn Harrison of Illinois. He too has since died.

Tinplate Times: So you had trains as a young boy?

JW: My first recollection of toy trains was when I was about 5 or 6, and on my birthday my dad set up a large standard gauge layout on the living room floor. I can sill see those 500 series freights being pulled by a 384 loco.

Tinplate Times: What do you enjoy collecting the most?

JW: My main interests are prewar standard gauge including Lionel, American Flyer, IVES, Boucher, Dorfan, and unusual items such as the JAD Hiawatha, Leland-Detroit, and the like. I have a complete collection of Lionel 00, which will have it’s own loop running after I make some trestles.

Tinplate Times: Tell us about your layout.

JW: I have a layout 54’ long by 13’ wide, with two loops each of both 0 gauge and standard gauge. I put doorbell buttons on the side of the layout so the grand kids can push the buttons and make bells ring, gates operate, and whistles blow.

Tinplate Times: What’s your most prized toy train?

JW: My most prized possession is a cast iron, wind-up Secor loco in the original box and lid with key. It’s the one pictured in Hertz’s book Collecting Model Trains on page 342. I located this item while attending law school in, of all places, a barbershop, where the barber used to let little kids play with it on the tile floor.

Tinplate Times: What train or set did you once own that you wish you had kept?

JW: I sold off a very large collection back 26 years ago to raise money for a real estate project, and soon after I began collecting all over again. The set I wish I had kept is an IVES Circus Train.

Tinplate Times: Are you still acquiring trains?

JW: Yes, I still add to my collection via EBAY and TCA meets.

Tinplate Times: When did you join the TCA?

JW: I joined the TCA in 1965, while my brother joined in 1960. He also enjoys collection and has a nice collection of foreign items. He lives In Tampa, FL.

Tinplate Times: What is the great attraction of tinplate toy trains for you?

JW: The trains are a part of my growing up and reminders of better times here in the United States. A lot has happened and the trains are a reminder of a time that was, when kids and adults alike had a closer bond, impossible today with electronic gadgets, TV, and so many other distractions. My dad and I played on the weekends with trains, and kids in the neighborhood would come over after school. It was fun!

Tinplate Times: What do you see for the future of tinplate toy trains and collecting?

JW: I feel that collecting shall go on, and people will always be interested in the fellowship of groups like the TCA, TTOS, and other organizations, again, like the NMRA, etc. I would like to think that we are just custodians for future generations.

Tinplate Times: Thanks for your comments, Jack.

JW: Thanks. I really appreciate your efforts.

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