It was in the middle of the last century that young Gator was given the task of taking streetcars to the family dentist. I know, it’s sounds like a long time ago. It was. Streetcars were the way to get around town. Everyone knew where they went. As the buses that replaced them, there were placards in front telling destination and the routes were memorized by all. There were transfer tickets, if you asked for one, that enabled the ride to go a bit further in a different direction perhaps.
Gator was five or six years old when he could go by himself downtown and further. The only street gangs were young kids that would roll a big snowball onto the tracks. Sort of the same thing as throwing a penny off the top of the Foshay tower downtown. It was the tallest building in town and is still there. Now it’s the smallest tall building in town. Word was if the penny hit someone it would go right through them! Terminal velocity of a coin that weighs the same as a hummingbird. The elevator was free but you had to use a coin to use the telescopes. Or just throw one. It might have been a nickle which is much heavier but could buy candy as well. A conundrum to a young anti-social Asperger genius. Three Musketeers or a Butterfinger. Tough choice.
So, onto the trolley (which had to switch the electric pickup mast when a change of direction had to be done) the conductors had neat uniforms and a coin box with a little chrome handle that would be constantly twirled to sort out the coins dropped in. Still remember the sound. Right hand, kachinka, clatter, kaching, etc. Get off on Hennepin avenue and walk down about six blocks to Washington avenue. There was a newsstand on the corner and they always had the latest science fiction magazines. Later they hawked Mad magazines along with newspapers from all over the country. Next trolley would take gator to the dentist. Great, fun trip before Novocain was used. “Tell me if it hurts too bad” Judgment call for a brief hiatus from the smell of burned porcelain and agony. Cotton stuffing and Ether for the tough jobs.
It was much later in the end of the century that Gator was shopping for his first fiddle and a friend in the string instrument world steered Gator to the dentist! It seemed the delicate skill sets were just the thing for success.
Gator bought one and his girl friend bought one too! They called them by a special name and they aged well.
The dentist was listed in instrument circles and the choice was good and neither of them needed dental care at that time. There was no Novocain for their wallets either. The bow cost was even higher. Good advice to do so.
The streetcars are long gone, along with their tangle of electric power wires overhead. The tracks are gone and recently, tracks got put back in for fast and quiet..streetcars. Metro transit. Every one misses the ding ding bell and the rattle of the glass and chrome change hopper.
The fiddle of Gators is so loud that a microphone is usually not needed in small venues. It’s a beauty. Another ‘coincidence’ in Gators life. That still small voice telling him to be a patient patient. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator