Saturday, January 16, 2016


If you follow my Facebook posts, lately you may have noticed a few things about a trolley.

[One of the trolleys in, perhaps, the late 70's? If your photo, let me know and I'll credit it.]

That would be the Mattapan-Ashmont trolley, sometimes known as the "High Speed" line. It serves Boston (the neighborhoods of Dorchester and Mattapan) and the town of Milton.

 [Map of the line. Go about 1/2 inch north of Central Avenue and that's where I lived.]

It is one of the very fond memories of my childhood that still exists. And my fervent wish is to see it continue to exist.

Some folks don't want that. They think it is too expensive to maintain and would like to see it replaced it with a bus.

[This is how the trolleys look now, with fresh paint jobs - lovely. Photo: Stuart Spina, I believe.]

I would like to see the line itself retained as electric transit and I would prefer to see the same wonderful trolleys that have been on the line for some 70 years continue to be the vehicles. And that's what my editorial in today's Boston Herald is all about.

Growing up a few blocks from the Central Avenue trolley stop, I could hear it run on summer nights. Through my open bedroom window I heard the clang-clang-clang of the bell; the steel wheels on the turns; even the opening and closing of doors if it was a particularly quiet evening. It was my bedtime melody. That trolley sang me to sleep.

It was the first part of heading downtown to go Christmas shopping or to my grandparent's home for Easter dinner. It gave me a ride to dates when I was a teenager without a car. When I had my first jobs, it was my transportation to and from work. When I was a kid, it took me to the movies in Mattapan Square. Some nights, I'd meet my grandfather, after his work, at Butler Street station. It was a constant presence in the life of those who grew up in our Lower Mills neighborhood. For the 37 years I lived there, it never let me down. It was - and I don't say this flippantly concerning something mechanical - a friend; one that could always be relied upon to get me where I needed to go, with both style and good speed.

And, if I didn't try to save my friend from death, what sort of a jerk would I be? Thus, my editorial in today's Boston Herald, which I hope you will read. As always, kind comments are welcome - and may even help my friend, the trolley, to survive. That's something I would like very much.
Soon, with more better stuff.


(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

I spent the first five years of my life a block from the "N" car in San Francisco.
One set of grandparents lived about three block from the West Portal of the Twin Peaks tunnel, where the "K" "L" and "M" cars began their split off in different directions.
(the other set of grandparents live on the cable car line before it became a tourist attraction)
I totally understand your affinity for these gems.

joeh said...

Buses suck and they stink.

Jersey added a light rail electric system about 10 years ago. Hoboken to Jersey City and more.

Suldog said...

(not necessarily my uncle) Skip - They are gems. And I knew this would strike a chord with some folks not even in Boston. Thanks!

Joe - Yeah, I've never been a big fan of buses. Light rail is far superior, both aesthetically and environmentally.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in East Milton in the fifties, early sixties, and would walk Adams St to get to the trolley to Ashmont to get to the train intown. I did this for Filenes's Basement, the MFA, the Church of the Advent. I've now been in Brookline for 30 years but I totally understand your wanting to keep the line running.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I hope they keep it!! I wish I had grown up riding a trolley, or had one available now.

messymimi said...

Keeping them is the right thing to do, but since when does government usually care about that? Anyway, i hope you can rally support and talk sense into the powers that be.

Boston Native said...

Grew up on the Hyde Park - Mattapan line. Took the trolley to Ashmont and then the bus to Codman Square for school for six years. Will never forget how sweltering hot it could be on the trolleys in early September with the heat on. And how crazy fast some of those drivers drove. An important part of my young adulthood -- hate to see them go. Hope they won't! Thanks Suldog, for the memories.

Marilyn said...

When I was a little kid, maybe 7 or 8, living in Columbia Point, my year-older brother and I used to make the long trek, via T, to Hyde Park to spend the weekend with my Aunt and Uncle who lived "in the country." We did this alone, without adult supervision.

We walked to Columbia Station (Now JFK), took the red line to Ashmont, climbed aboard the trolley to Mattapan Square and then hopped a bus to Fairmount Hill.
The length of the trip made it feel like we were going on a vacation in a faraway land. But, the best part of all was riding the trolley through the cemeteries. Fond memories!

Suldog said...

Thank you all for the nice comments. It is heartening to see - both here and at the Herald website - the strong support for keeping the trolleys running.

Shammickite said...

OK you Boston transit authorities, get your filthy little mitts off this lovely trolley line, listen to my friend Jim, he knows what he's on about! (btw we call them streetcars in Toronto, or isn't that quite the same sort of conveyance?) Anyway, that's my opinion. KEEP THE TROLLEYS! I wish I could have a ride on one.

Suldog said...

Shammickite - Thank you! When we visited Toronto a long time ago, we loved riding the trolleys there!

Daryl said...

just caught up (and forwarded toonman) your latest posts .. i am telling you .. there's a book here

Craig said...

God bless you, Jim. . .

I have very minimal experience with trolleys; I actually took my very first trolley ride last summer - in San Diego, of all places!