The Song of the Trolley

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The Song of the Trolley
Posted by NKP guy on Saturday, August 31, 2019 9:43 AM

    As a young railfan, the second book I bought was Frank Rowsome, Jr.'s Trolley Car Treasury.  

   It contains a poem that I've always enjoyed because it captures the flavor of the early 1900's and because its words and meter almost make me feel as if I'm riding a trolley car myself.  It's author was Roy L. McCardell  (1870 - 1940).

   When I searched for it on Google I couldn't find but a small exerpt, so my hope is that many of you here have never read and enjoyed it...until now.

 

The Song of the Trolley

 

I am coming, I am coming, hark you hear my motor humming,

For the trolley’s come to conquer, so you cannot keep it back;

And “Zip”! the sparks are flashing, as the car goes onward dashing

While the wheels are whirring smoothly along a perfect track.

 

‘Tis vain then to delay me, for you cannot stop or stay me,

Though old fogies fought against me, for I “went too fast”, they said;

And they talked of death and danger to the native and the stranger --

Oh! a frightful state they were in from my wire overhead.

 

Yes, it seems the trolley shocked them -- for right and left I knocked them,

And I made them grow much wiser in their day.

So, at last they’ve learned their folly and stopped fooling with the trolley:

Now when they hear me coming it’s a case of clear the way.

 

I have harnessed nature’s forces, I’ve freed the mules and horses,

I have helped the toiling thousands to new ways to earn their bread;

Then, as civilization’s factor, I will laugh at each detractor

And keep on doing business at the same old stand instead.

 

Hear me whizzing through the highways -- see me brightening up the byways,

Annihilating distance as I merry speed along;

I bring new life and faces to old sleeping towns and places

And a million homes are brighter for the music of my song.

 

The business world’s my debtor, ‘twill ne’er find servant better,

For I’ve wakened up a nation and prosperity’s at hand;

See the future that’s before me, ‘tis in vain you would ignore me,

For the voice of the trolley is heard all through the land.

 

I’ve no palace car or sleeper, but I carry people cheaper,

And I bring the breath of country to the toilers of the town;

I increase the mail facilities -- freight carrying abiliities

Are among my many virtues and I cannot be kept down.

 

I laugh to scorn resistance and all thoughts of time and distance,

The embodiment of Progress, hear me hustling near and far

In the van of civilization, and a most apt illustration

Of how commerce has successfully hitched its wagon to a star.

 

Yes, I’m coming, I am coming, don’t you hear my motor humming?

For the trolley’s here to conquer and you cannot keep it back;

And “Zip”! the sparks are flashing as the car goes onward dashing

Yes the trolley’s come and conquered, so look out! and clear the track!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, September 01, 2019 9:11 AM

thanks!

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, September 01, 2019 10:21 AM

Thanks NKP, that was interesting!

It reminds me a bit of the old Civil War era hymn "Hold The Fort, For I Am Coming," so I looked up the same to see if the music from one would fit the other.  No dice, the meter's completely different.  Oh well.

Here's a trolley song I've posted before, but won't hurt to post again,  "On A Good Old Trolley Ride."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d3TDPE0K2c  

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, September 01, 2019 10:40 AM

And then there's the late, great Stompin' Tom Connors with his version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi96V96ZMHE 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, September 01, 2019 12:04 PM

Wow, that Stompin' Tom song was so good I had to run it twice!

Anyone notice the smoke haze in the club?  Times sure have changed, I'll bet you had to show a pack of cigarettes to be admitted back in those days!

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, September 01, 2019 12:27 PM

Yeah, you beat me to the comment. Probably at the HorseShoe Tavern, Toronto, but it makes no difference where. You can't even smoke outside on the patios anymore in Toronto. A Blues/Jazz club without the haze? Good grief.

Watching those NASA clips from the moon landings and several planetary exploration craft landings and a whole whack of those scientists and engineers sitting behind control panels in that big mission  center and they are smoking away at their stations like mad! Oh the horrors! 

Now social engineers busy editing out all those clips and from old movies too!  Didn't happen, nothing to see here folks, move on.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Sunday, September 01, 2019 12:57 PM

The song certainly does capture the flavor of the early 1990's. Also very much reminds me of the opening for Middleton's "The Interurban Era", along with several other books on interurbans.

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, September 01, 2019 1:05 PM

Not to change the subject to smoking, but when I moved to Toronto in 1995, the amount of smoke in bars was astonishing! In New York, it was going away but here? I'd go home reeking of cigarettes and not only that, Canadian cigarettes smell very harsh, unlike the sort-of sweetness of a Marlboro. That bar with Stompin' Tom was likely the Horseshoe which started up in 1947 and is one of the diminishing rank of live music venues here in Toronto. It also has the best bartender in Toronto, one Teddy Fury who remembers the last drink you had even though it was five years since you were last in the place. And, the Queen streetcar stops just outside the door and the Spadina line is only 100 feet away.  

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, September 01, 2019 1:19 PM

OK, so this one isn't about streetcars, but it is about the Spadina Bus which last ran in 1998 and was replaced by the streetcar. The Shuffle Demons are still around and I see them whenever I get the chance, but the GM New Looks are long gone. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZnLjRi_g9o 

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, September 01, 2019 1:48 PM

Best bus tune ever. Glad to hear the Shuffle Demons are still around doing their thing. Used to go to Spadina just for a superb bowl of Matzo Ball soup, then spend the day exploring around all the vendors and jobbers. Toms Place in the Kensington market for suits! 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, September 01, 2019 4:44 PM

After listening to Stompin' Tom I was going to say "Good old trolleys!  Nobody writes songs about buses!"

Good thing I waited.  I'd never heard of the Shuffle Demons, much less the "Spadina Bus" song!

One question, did their mothers actually let them go out in public dressed like that?

"Social engineers editing out smoking scenes from old movies."  I'll bet they can't do it to 1940's films without having nervous breakdowns!  

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, September 01, 2019 8:38 PM

On the follow up video that popped up on my U Tube the Shuffle Demons perform a redo years and years later. The TTC provided the bus   as it is now streetcars. 

Of course, like ourselves they are considerably 'thicker', a few Buddha bellies, and their attire has got considerably worse. Oh well they are entertainers so crazy attire is expected. 

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Posted by 54light15 on Monday, September 02, 2019 2:26 PM

You know how women don't seem to like "The Three Stooges?" It's the same with the Demons- the last time we went to see them several of the guys brought  their wives and they all hated them. We thought that was funny but we didn't tell them that.  Discretion, you know? 

If they took out all the smoking from old movies, Bette Davis pictures wouldn't make any sense! 

 

Speical bonus track! It's not about trains or buses, but it is about something we use every day!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaedU-uqm10 

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Posted by seppburgh2 on Wednesday, September 04, 2019 9:57 PM
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, September 05, 2019 8:34 AM

Thanks seppburgh!

RIP Judy Garland, there'll never be another like her.

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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, September 05, 2019 6:13 PM
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, September 05, 2019 8:52 PM

Thanks Miningman!

Couldn't have won World War Two without music like that!

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, September 05, 2019 9:25 PM

Flintlock76
Couldn't have won World War Two without music like that!

Couldn't have squandered the peace dividend without music like this...

And then of course we couldn't leave without at least thinking about the connection between monorails and trolleys...

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, September 06, 2019 8:34 AM

Oh brother Mod-man, I listened to that "peace dividend" killer and almost threw the headset across the room!  Talk about a harbinger of a Western Civilization melt-down!

"The Simpsons" in Spanish!  The only thing missing was Homer saying "Ohhhhhh, churrrrroooooos...."

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, September 06, 2019 8:54 AM

His theoretical Royal Canadian highness

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Posted by 54light15 on Friday, September 06, 2019 10:46 AM

I'm sure liking this version!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLPyQuBfI10 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, September 06, 2019 11:57 AM

I like it too!  Classic swing!

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, September 06, 2019 6:46 PM

How about Kate Smith...... from Mike

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, September 07, 2019 10:40 AM

Longing for a trolley ride.... we must wait.

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, September 07, 2019 5:15 PM


Toonerville Trolley 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, September 07, 2019 7:32 PM

Well, that was different!

You know, there was a trolley that ran in Yonkers NY before WW2, and all who rode it said the motorman was a dead-ringer for the Skipper of the Toonerville Trolley!

Speaking of which, here's a Toonerville Trolley cartoon from 1936, with Powerful Katrinka no less!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hqgWqk9mw8  

Two weeks ago I saw a custom-made O gauge Toonerville Trolley at a train show.  Saw the $800 price tag, had my heart attack, walked away after I recovered.

Came home with a much more reasonably priced Lionel Jersey Central "Camelback."

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, September 07, 2019 7:40 PM

Flintlock76
You know, there was a trolley that ran in Yonkers NY before WW2, and all who rode it said the motorman was a dead-ringer for the Skipper of the Toonerville Trolley!

Just about every old RRer ends up looking like that.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, September 08, 2019 2:42 AM

The conversion of Yonkers' nine streetcar lines to bus started in 1951 and was completed in 1952.  Part of the same system, the Pelham – Pelham Manor line, went bus in 1938? With a ceremony with Fontain Fox and a guest Steinway Lines Birney to stand-in for the original single-truck "Toonervilles."
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, September 08, 2019 8:26 AM

Thanks for that David!  I knew there was something  to that Yonkers-Toonerville connection, I just didn't know the particulars.

And Fontaine Fox came to the close-down ceremony!  That's even better!

Taking the Toonerville theme even further, prior to and during World War Two Fort Benning GA had a narrow-gauge rail system to the training areas that utilized equipment from the "Trench Railroads" of World War One, complete with Baldwin steam engines.  Those who rode it called it the "Toonerville Trolley."   

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, September 08, 2019 11:09 AM

The Kennedy family had a kind-of large golf cart called the Toonerville Trolley to ferry their many children around the Hyannisport compound. There's pictures of it on Pinterest; I'm not able to put a link here. I do recall that it was sold about 30 years ago and likely is in a museum today. 

I do recall some silent black and white cartoons of the TT when I was a kid. 

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