Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Life with Fred & Lucy, Part 17: Riding the Trolley


My earliest memory of visiting my dad at his job has to do with the Philadelphia Transit Company of which my father was a driver. His working outfit consisted of a uniform, hat and a coin changer.
                               Mom carrying me to Dad                                                         

 I would always play with the coin changer that hung around his waist on a belt. Mom took me to ride on Dad’s trolley route when I was around three years old; Jane was an infant. It was four years before Fred bought the grocery store.
It was one of the older trolley’s where there was the driver in front and a man at the rear to collect the money?? Not too sure on how that worked, but right after that ride, my father’s route was updated and he got to drive a newer trolley.

The amazing thing about these trolleys was that it was eco-friendly and clean. No pollution!! The trolley ran on tracks and it hooked up to the wires overhead. If for some reason the connection was broken, the driver would leave the trolley and with a long stick; reconnect trolley to wire.                                                                       
To encourage people to use public transportation, the powers in charge began building amusement parks at the end of the lines. Willow Grove Amusement park was one of them and there was a smaller park right here in South Philadelphia on Broad Street. I don’t know the name, but there was also a Drive In down the street. If anybody has pictures of the South Philly Amusement Park, please contact me.
When I was a teenager, my friends and I would take the trolley to Willow Grove Amusement Park and spend the day there. Good times and the prices of the rides were cheap.                                                               
My best memories of taking a trolley ride with my father was after his shift, he would take us to eat at the Horn & Hardart Automated Restaurant in Center City.

Since I wasn’t tall enough to reach the coin slots, he would lift me up in order for me to deposit my ten cents for a slice of apple pie.
Everything was behind glass and people would slide their trays along the metal rail picking out what they wanted and paying for it as they went. I guess you could call it America’s original fast food, but the food was freshly made and healthy to eat.
I don’t know what got me started on thinking about riding on the old trolley cars…maybe it was the conversation I had with my grandsons. We’re all worried about global climate change and how we can help and that started me telling them about my childhood and how Philadelphia at one time was able to move a city with cheap, clean transportation.  Sometimes progress isn’t that good for the soul or the planet.


  1. Great pictures to go with a great blog. Lucy Moses

  2. I rode on the trolley to get to the zoo in Philly. There's one on display in center city that Joe has taken me and my nephew to. His mother and father drove Philly trollies too.

    1. I loved when the conductor would ring the bell:)