Naked Emperor: Trolleys in Yonkers
No. 1 Trolley Warburton Line Shown near Getty Square
Trolleys Take to the Rails in 1886
Warburton Ave. Looking North, Philipse Manor Unseen at Left
Metro North Train Station in Yonkers
Washington Street, Norwalk, Connecticut
"Clang, clang, clang, went the trolley ... ding, ding, ding went the bell ..."
The words of that old familiar song bring memories to me of the wartime 1940s in Yonkers, N.Y. -- known by its natives in those days as "The City of Gracious Living." That city, more hilly than the "city by the bay," boasted trolley cars until the early '50s when buses took their place.
Those were the "good old days" despite the ravages of war, the blackouts, the rationing of sugar and gasoline, and the black-starred telegrams I sometimes helped my late brother deliver by bicycle to kin of fallen G.I.'s.
Those were the days of soft music, great movies, fresh-from-the-farm food -- unadulterated by cross-breeding (tomatoes), whipping (butter), decaffeinating and freeze-drying (coffee), rolling (turkey), injection of water (ham) and treatment by chemical additives (bread) -- and, for most of us, the only high we experienced was when the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Yankees or the Giants made it to the World Series.
But, back to the trolleys! Many of us who grew up with the iron monsters look upon them now not only nostalgically, as we do, but also as an excellent form of transportation. In summer, the cars were often open-aired, operated on a full, convenient schedule and took you just about anywhere you wanted to go in the city from the subway in the Bronx to the city lines at Hastings-on-Hudson and Mount Vernon.
And they were fun; as kids, we often rode them all over town when there wasn't much else to do. It kept us out of trouble more than once.
We think of the trolleys quite a lot these days -- just about every time we find ourselves sitting patiently behind another car on Route 7, the (Merritt) parkway or the (Connecticut) turnpike. And, more often lately, on many of the (Fairfield) county's side streets. Here, at The Hour newspaper, it's an adventure trying to pull in and out of the driveway (on Route 7.)
In fact, we've been preaching the benefits of public transportation for years, but not only buses. Logically, one should fit the mode of transportation to the goal, or destination, desired. A train or plane fits the bill for most long trips; private cars, limos, taxis, buses, bicycles, monorails, or even golf carts do the trick in other situations.
With today's limited-access "parking lots (the Merritt, I-95)," hasn't it become clear the automobile isn't the panacea it once was?
In the face of daily stagnated traffic, can anyone truly watch the naked king roll down the turnpike every morning without seeing that he has no clothes?
I wrote this column for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn. It appeared on June 27, 1987 as an "Editor's Notebook." At the time, I was a reporter and editor at The Hour, where I spent 32 years, from November 1968 until I retired on June 1, 2000.