As a boy, Ray Battaglia really enjoyed the time he spent with his model trains. He spent hours setting up tracks with his friends. As all boys do, Ray grew up and soon traded his trains for movies, cars and girls. Eventually Ray found himself with three daughters, a wife and a job leaving no time for trains.
Ray was reminded of his train hobby when a neighbor took him to a train show 15 years ago. He returned home, hooked on his new American Flyer train set. Over the years, Ray’s amassed nearly six sets of streamliner passenger trains, 20 freight trains, diesel engine trains and 150 rolling stock cars.
But retirement, colder weather and visiting family in Georgia stopped the trains on their tracks. While visiting the area to see their grandson, the Battaglias were acquainted with Soleil Laurel Canyon in Canton, Georgia. “The week we were here, my wife went to Soleil five times,” he said. “It was evident we really liked it!”
Upon returning to Illinois, their home had been hit by a snow storm. “One of the pipes froze while we were gone. My wife and I looked at each other and said ‘we like the houses there, let’s do something about it!’” So, they became homeowners at Soleil.
The Battaglia’s long-pondered home selection came down to space for Ray to again work on his trains with eight-by-ten tables. “You can only do so much in a garage,” he said.
A member of the S-Gauge club, he now has a spare living room for his trains and has one running around near the ceiling.
As residents of Soleil, Ray pursues his models train hobby with neighbors, and they enjoy access to Atlanta and southeastern shows. He knows other neighbors have trains boxed up at home and hopes they will be encouraged to bring them out when he starts Soleil’s model train club. Eventually he’ll set up a track in the Soleil clubhouse. “We were elated because it’s a great community, really,” he said.
Most of all, Ray loves the joy his trains give youngsters like his grandchildren. As model trains enjoy a resurgence across the country, Ray acknowledged great turnouts and lots of children at events. Seeing excitement and wonder on children’s faces brings back memories of Ray’s own boyhood and his affinity for trains. “I just love to watch the kids’ eyes light up,” he said. “It’s neat to see the kids’ faces when they see these trains going by.”
For more information about the active adult community’s spacious homes, social clubs or interesting residents like Ray, visit Soleil Laurel Canyon online.