LiveWire Newsletter
Two Bells (Nostalgia from Bygone Streetcar Days)
By Jerry D. Kelly

    Writing recently about hand collection on two man cars brings to mind where zone or additional fares were collected. On the streetcars, this took place, for example, on the #8 and #14 lines and these were one man operations. Also, bus routes H, M, and P also collected zone fares. This was not my topic for this issue but just came about and I will write more about this at a later date when I would like to discuss I.D. checks, which line(s) issued them, where and why. But that is for later.

    Two and three-car trains bring me always to the #26 line and I do recall my first trip. It had to have been the summer of 1942 or 1943. Up to that time, our church had an outing each summer. We would go to the Light Street piers and take a steam-powered boat to Tolchester across the bay or to Fairview Beach. WW II brought a stop to this, so one summer, the church had a streetcar charter. A two-car train was parked on Heath Street lead track to the car yard. After meeting at the church on Riverside Avenue, we walked down and boarded the train. It was my first trip on a two-car train as my riding up to that time had mostly been on the 9, 14, 2, 6 and 19 line.

    I do not recall the exact route we took in the city, but I do know I rode the entire trip standing on the rear platform. The best part was when we entered the private right away off Eastern Avenue. This was first time I had seen block signals and remember as we went south, how the northbound cars made the lights go red and then turn to green. The air horn was the first I had heard and still with me after all these years. As we moved south, we came to the bridges and it seemed to take forever to cross them. I had no idea streetcars went across wood bridges. The best part of the trip of course being at Bay Shore Park. It was fried chicken, pickled eggs, iced tea and it just seemed to go on and on. Later in the day, after many park rides some of the adults of the church took me to take a close look at the street cars parked at the park. We were allowed to get on the cars, sit on the stool and play motorman. The street car bug had been with me prior to this but I think this went a long way to ensuring that it never left. The ride home that evening was even better with the block signal lights glowing as we went past and I still recall that the air horn sounded better at night.

    I had more trips to Bay Shore in later years and was on the last trip that the NRHS operated in the fall of 1946. None of those trips left the impression of the first trip. I will close this part of the Bay Shore Park stories at this time. I hope that soon I can have a full page, which breaks down to four pages and would like to print some Bay Shore Park information, #26 line information, etc.

    Question and answer time. I will supply a question and can you, the members and readers, come up with some answers? On the 5400, 5500, 5600, 5700 and 5800 cars you had three or four roll signs. Lets take the #15 line to set the question. If it was bound to West Baltimore Street, what was displayed on the front of the car; on the #4 car bound downtown, it was Charles & Lexington Streets. Got the idea? What was on the side signs?

    As I remember, the #1 line had Gilmor Street on the side signs, the #4 line had Edmondson Avenue and the #15 had Baltimore Street. What did the other lines show on the side signs? Did the two-man cars change all #4 signs? Did one-man cars just change the front? Who knows and knows what was displayed?

    (Reprinted with permission from the Baltimore Streetcar Museum's quarterly newsletter, The Live Wire.  Copyright 1999, The Baltimore Streetcar Museum, Inc. All rights reserved.)

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