There Goes the Choo Choo Man

There Goes the Choo Choo Man

Heather Lamp, Staff Writer

Children’s fascination and appreciation of all things has continued to fill our minds with wonder and awe. Children find even the smallest of things and value them beyond our wildest imaginations. When Mr. Joe Fuller observed children riding a small train being pulled by a tractor, a new doorway opened up. Fascinated by the children’s reaction, Mr. Fuller began to build his own train.

Three years ago the long journey started. Mr. Fuller began looking for parts and investing in children’s dreams. When asked what sparked the connection with the train, Mr. Fuller replied that he never intended to become so involved. Watching the children’s fascination was the magic. The days for train riding are quickly fading. Mr. Fuller shared a story with me regarding children and their fascination with trains.

At school during recess, the little boy would rush to the fence if the train came by. He would not leave the fence until the last car was out of sight or the last ring of the whistle was heard. “That’s the magic” says Mr. Fuller. So two thousand dollars and three years later Mr. Fuller began riding children at local festivals. Charging only two dollars to try and allow every child to ride.

Mr. Fuller spares no expense when it comes to safety. Now each coach can hold two people (adults included). Mr. Fuller also attached chains and hitches to each coach so the train cannot get away from him. To further insure safety and a good time, Mr. Fuller drives the train in a zigzag pattern and attached a mirror to the front of the train. When asked for his reasoning Mr. Fuller responded, “The mirror lets me see what the children are doing. When I drive in a zigzag pattern it helps make it easier to make sure the children are following all the safety rules.”

Mr. Fuller uses the train as a teaching experience through the Read and Ride Adventure. By visiting schools Mr. Fuller and his assistants Mr. Eddy and Mr. Freddy the puppets help teach children about trains and safety rules. Mr. Fuller even created a CD for teachers to play that remind children how to be good listeners using the three finger rule. A finger to the lips means stop talking, a finger to the ear means to listen and a finger on the head means important information is about to be given. Mr. Fuller firmly believes that by playing the CD and using the three finger rule teachers will cut back on discipline time and increase instructive time. After reading a story on trains Mr. Fuller then takes the children out to ride the train. “Every student gets to ride the train. I never turn a student away if I can help it.”

We have all witnessed the magic children have with trains. During the football season PC students and fans get to witness Mr. Fuller’s gift in action. Mr. Fuller stated the great thing about his train is that it can be anything such as the Blue Hose Express that we see during the football season.

Mr. Fuller does not run the train as a business. He does not receive a salary from the rides that he gives the children. His wish is to create a stationary area for the train. With expenses from the insurance company, tire replacements, and regular upkeep, Mr. Fuller’s biggest concern is to keep that train running. Mr. Fuller  says, “Children want to ride the train”. The train can be used for birthday parties, church events, festivals, football games, the list continues to grow.

It is with high hopes that Mr. Fuller continues to provide rides to children. Any group can adopt the train. Support the magic by donating money to the train and help keep that magic alive. Mr. Fuller keeps providing rides to children. He plans on continuing to ride children for as long as possible. “I would love to be able to ride children for free and not have to worry about money. The train should never be idle. Every day there should be children to ride.” To children there is little difference between the coal and cargo trains that run through our town every day and the train Mr. Fuller has dedicated so much time and effort. The most rewarding experiences for Mr. Fuller are the hugs and smiles he receives from the children. A child’s smile can truly light the world.

Help keep the magic alive and brighten the world of a child.The Blue Hose Express needs our PC support. Just two dollars from each person can help keep this little train moving for months.