Chairman Scott Taylor described how Luke and his papaw, Bobby Goins, came to the bank everyday last year while they waited for the young conductor’s mother, Emily, to get off work from her job in the Bradley County Court Clerk’s office.
First it was once a week, then sometimes three and four times a week, they came so Luke could watch the train.
“He’d stay for a couple of hours, as long as his papaw would stay with him. We realized then he was such a train lover that we thought we’d make him the official conductor and let him kick off the Christmas season for us,” Taylor said. “His papaw sat on the steps with me and we watched him.”
Taylor recalled his late father and Bank of Cleveland founder Bobby Taylor decided to put the model train in the lobby 17 Christmases ago.
The late Bobby Taylor said in a 2009 interview the idea of the train began on a trip to Highlands, N.C. While visiting the downtown area, he saw many people standing on the sidewalk in front of a building. Out of curiosity, he joined the crowd only to see a train display inside the building.
In 2009, he decided a model train was something he could do to draw young people into the bank and to inspire a visit to downtown. At the time of the interview, the train and village had been on display in the front window of the Bank of Cleveland every Christmas since 1991.
Bobby Taylor was unable to help put the train together in 2008, but he still enjoyed watching the Santa Fe engine that year, and in 2009 for the last time, as it traveled in a circle around a small village. Taylor died July 16, 2010, at the age of 89.
Luke is a train enthusiast who even watches train videos on YouTube, said his maternal grandfather, Don Akins. He knows the different kinds of crossing signals and knows the difference between Santa Fe and Norfolk Southern engines.
“I guess for three years now, we can be out in the yard and he can hear a train downtown and he’ll say, ‘G-dad, G-dad! Let’s go, we can make it!’ So we go chasing trains downtown all the way to Blue Springs Road. We’ll pull over, he’ll wave at the engineers,” Akins said.
G-dad said he doesn’t know why Luke has always been attracted to trains.
“I think it has something to do with the noise and the movement,” he said. “He’ll get down on the floor and push the train and watch the wheels turn. He watches the mechanics of it, I think.”
His parents, Coby and Emily Goins, said when the stop at train crossings, they have to watch.
“This is quite a production for him,” Emily said. “The trains we have at home are nothing like this.”
Right now, they only have wooden Thomas the Train Engine at home, but Luke builds his own tracks then puts them away before bedtime.
“He’ll make a train out of anything,” his father said. “We’ve been to restaurants and he’ll make a train out of straws, crayons, he’ll put pieces of food together. Everything becomes a train.”
For the most part, mom and dad enjoy their son’s fascination with trains, but every once in awhile the noise gets a little loud.
“The train noise that comes out of 4 year old gets loud every once in awhile. He makes whistle noises, steam noises. He makes all of his own noises, so sometimes that gets a little loud,” Emily said.
But, one of the rules is that he puts the trains up every night before he goes to bed; however, the very first thing next morning, he has them back out, they said.
Luke’s grandparents are Don and Darlene Akins, and Bobby and Vicki Goins.