I got my first Lionel train in 1957, a 250 Pennsy loco and set. In 1959 I received the SF Alco A-A, 2412 blue stripe SF Vista Dome, and matching 2416 Observation. I still have all my childhood trains, track, transformer (SW, the xfr from the 250 set fried early on), accessories, and Plasticville buildings, etc. Started back into the hobby around 1986/87 when I dragged the stuff out of my parents attic in Houston and brought it back to Dallas. I had dabbled in HO until college but never in a big way. I got degrees in electrical engineering at Texas A&M, specializing in digital, radio and microwave systems, and then went to work in Dallas for Rockwell-Collins. Recently retired as a senior technologist from the radio division of Airbus. Been married for 31 years and have two adult children that live in the area. Am trying to reduce/specialize in the NYC for scale stuff and I am all over the map with pre-war, PW, and modern traditional size stuff. I have done contract projects for a local layout builder since about 2002, focused on simplified electrical/control systems for large display layouts for corporate/museum customers (No control systems, docents at museums dealing with guests have no time to mess with current remote control systems Where the trains will regularly just stop/loose programming several times a day, requiring a power down and restart). Most recently doing custom machining/rebuilding/maintenance to keep modern era standard ga reproduction locos running for a couple of months during holiday display seasons (something they were never designed to do in the first place). Run a standard ga train for days on end and it will destroy itself quickly.
Forgot to mention I took machine shop electives in college so I formally learned how to set up/run, operate, large engine lathes, shapers, milling machines, heat processes, etc, cutting all kinds of metal. I was a gear head and was always working on cars/hot rodding. '70 Plymouth Satellite/383, '68 Corvette. The Corvette and friends with Corvettes got me into fiberglass body work and repainting. Autocrossed and drag raced. I rebuilt a couple of engines as a result of the racing, but lost interest in that when the parts costs went through the roof.
Children faciltated the obvious direction into school support, scouts, princesses, band, and coaching sports for many years, so the trains as a home activity were a great hobby vs the cars (plus the insurance rider I carried for racing - typ your regular insurance does not cover that - got really expensive). Built an 8 X 12 layout at dining table height in the bonus room so the kids could easily access it. They played with it extensively until they hit junior high years. The layout went into storage and the room became their game/TV/hangout room.
My friends at the layout builder and I expanded my old layout by 8 feet (8x20) and set it up a couple of times a year for layout festivals.