Moist Handkerchiefs For Late Hull Electric. Published 1 April 1947
It's a sad thing to see a street car line die. I was a spectator at the funeral of the Hull Electric yesterday. I went over to Hull and when No. 38 came along, I rode with J. A. Noel, who had 45 years with the H.E.C., as far as Aylmer. Mr. Noel told me that he had no plans, except to have a rest, then look around. Jobs are not going to be so easy to find for a man who's spent half a century almost, coaxing a capricious car through the suburban scenery.
At Aylmer I saw Charles E.Boucher. 7 Albert street, Aylmer. who had 33 years on the Job. take over and then later, following my sentimental sojourn at the Deschenes car barns, I got aboard the only other car then running. No. 34. which was in charge of E. Holt. Mr. Holt and a car load of government charwomen almost went into the canal locks one early morning, after a track washout, but lived to tell the tale. So did everybody else. Motorman Holt hopes to get a job as a stationary engineer, having kept his papers up to date all these years, since he used to play hostler to an engine way back before World War I. Holt lives at 7 Kent street, Hull.
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But where I really did go for a strcll down memory lane was when I visited the cars outside the Derchenes car barn. There was eld No. 10. which carried His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, out to the Country Club, in 1919. I thought too. of No. 8. in which they used to put palms and a special carpet, when the Duke and Duchess of Connaught went out to the Royal Ottawa.
For me at least there was a sigh for No. 22, for it used to take us out to Queen's Park. Aylmer, way back in '07 and '08. and once my mother had us all out at the old hotel, long since burned down, at Aylmer, and then run by J. K. Paisley. I recall taking it, as well as 24 and 26, out to Queen's Park, to see the chute the chutes, the funny mirrors, ride the merry go 'round, and fill up on ice cream and pop. Sunday school picnics for Dominion Methodist church were held there, the Flower Guild once had us out there, and then in the fall, you could go out and eat the red ripe haws, later picking your teeth with the thorns.
You could watch the sloops lazily sail by the now burned down yacht club, which lit up at mght like a stage set. Or in earlier days, you could so down and play street car on the open trailers which stayed on the siding.
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I can remember 52 and its sisters, arriving crisp and fresh from Preston, or at least, they said they were from Preston. Then we got into the big car class, wifh the 200 series, and there they were yesterday morning too, put out of business when Mayor Brunet of Hull foibade them the use of their downtown loop.
Even the Gale dynasty is but yesterday, as we measure such things, since they came in 1926, when the one-man car was no longer a novelty, and the treadle step was coming in. But I can go back to the time when the Canadian Pacific operated the Hull Electric, and things were done with the oldtlme Shaughnessy efficiency. Anbody who remembers the CPR under that distinguished American expatriate will know what I mean. Like Thornton, he knew how to run things.
I looked at these poor old cars, axles buried in snow, their windows dirty, their paint no longer fresh. I though of earlier days when I took my sister and brother, for a car ride on the old open cars, and I recall No. 23. the hoodoo car, with some amusement. I can recall my mother's fright as the open car once stalled on the trestle over the CPR tracks, and her perennial fear as the cars banked around the tracks to swing in toward the Ottawa terminus, when. from, an open car seat, a false step could mean a drop of a hundred feet.
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There were gay days and gay night on those lines. There were Sundays when people fought for half-an-hour repeat for half-an-hour to get on the trams, which were then the dernier cri. It was a question whether Ahearn and Soper on the Ottawa side, or the CPR through the Hull Electric on the Hull side, was giving you the better service.
But those were the halcyon days of the open street car. Those were wonderful days when we were all young, when no juke box fouled our ears, no motor car disturbed the toll roads to Aylmer, and when radio was unknown. Those were the days when the sports sat in the front seat, with the motorman, and took off their hats, a rather sporty thing to do in public in those days. Those were the days when young boys growing up expressed their manhood by walking along the cutside steps like the conductor when you were really grown up if your mother would let you pull the bell cord to stop.
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OK you kids, so you have a, lot of fun with the old man's automobile.
OK little dears, you are really quite the young ladies In your makeup and loafers. But when a fellow helped his girl on the open car, appraising the leg almost all the way up to the knee as she took the high steps; when she settled down among her petticoats for a nice half hour's car ride; when the young blood gave a knowing wink to the wise conductor; when the city lights gave way to the fireflies of the country, when, as a blaze of light, we roared on out toward Aylmer, we knew we were really out for a time.
It's an age that is as dead and as gone as buggy whips and pianolas. But as I look around me now, and view the world's misery, don't tell me we didn't have all the best of it. Goodby No. 22: goodby No. 54: goodby old No. 10. you and I knew better days than we're seeing now.