Hatteberg's People - Fred Kemp

By: Larry Hatteberg Email
By: Larry Hatteberg Email

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April 10th, 2011

If you loved trains as a child, how does that change when you become an adult. If you ask Fred Kemp of rural Butler County -- He would say...nothing changes. His life-long love affair with model trains has given him a lifetime collection that will impress any train buff.

"There is so much chaos in the world, but this is one place I can come that is organized."

"It keeps you from worrying about things that are no value, or that you can't do anything about."

Take a look around Fred Kemp's train room that houses his collection of engines and cars....it's a bit overwhelming.

"I have about 200 train sets. Some of the sets have two cars, some have three, four or five."

From floor to ceiling, every wall space is full of trains, all kinds.

"I have visited a lot of other train collectors and saw what made theirs look good and what made their rooms look good and I tried to add all that together in this one room."

"This belonged to my father when he was very young. It was Lionel's version of the German 'Big Bertha' canon and they didn't sell very many because of that I think. So, it's a very rare piece."

Fred spends hours and days restoring these old trains. For him, it's part of his family history. He remembers in the late '30's when his parents were in economic difficulties. During that time as a child, he had a small train, but he wanted a larger one.

"Lionel was trying to sell their magazine, and if you sold eight subscriptions to their magazine they would give you a 'free' locomotive. So my father sold eight subscriptions to Lionel magazine and this was my Christmas present. I was awake nearly all night figuring out how I was going to keep it oiled, keep it polished and keep it running beautiful like I saw in the book."

It is a collection of a lifetime. Car by car, engine by engine, Fred Kemp has collected, restored, rebuilt, and re-kindled those childhood memories.

"I guess the good Lord has been blessing me with being able to come up with fulfilling my desires."

Some might say he is the kid who never grew up.

"Yeah, yeah, my wife thinks so too!"

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