Friday, February 17, 2017

"I Had It When I Stepped on This Car, You Grinning Donkey, and Some One on This Car Has It"

"The Stolen Ten Thousand."
By D. C. Freeman (?-?).
First appearance: The Railroad Man's Magazine, April 1910.
Reprinted in The Underworld, February 1928.
Short story (10 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Warning: Text is VERY faded; you should have better reading if you click the "Zoom In" function 3 or 4 times.)
"What Happened on the Night That Denver Joe Made a Haul in No. 47, the Hoodoo."
An awe-inspiring sight, this:
Persons abroad on the streets were appalled by the remarkable vision of the veritable chariot of fire winging its way recklessly through the public thorough-fares.
And how, you might reasonably ask, could such a thing transpire on the avenues of a large American city? We could go way back to Denver Joe's early years, when at some point he must've decided that he's entitled to other people's money whether they like it or not.

Or we could go back to just recently, when Shorty Saunders—conscientious bill-paying family man, trying to overcome "an instalment indebtedness doubling up on him, and the missus and the kid both sick for a time"—fails to persuade his superintendent to give him a better street-car route. Or we could say that Shorty's "cold-blooded" Superintendent Skinner simply refuses to cut him any slack.

Or we could point to that "bad case of nerves" that plagues Mr. Ambey Bennet—"head of Bennet Lumbering Company of Bridal Veil Falls"—leading to "irritation [that] had been at the boiling point for hours" and causing just enough distraction to induce him to lose track of "a neat, compact package of fresh currency" worth ten thousand dollars.

Or we could blame it all on old No. 47, known to a legion of tram car drivers as "the hoo-doo," a street-car with a "reputation for mishaps, and for hurting her motormen and conduc-tors [that] dated back to the days of the single-truckers and the old rheostat," including one memorable trip "with 47 and a trailer with a picnic crowd" during which "the hoodoo scared a hundred people into teetotalism on the way home by trying to peal through the span braces of the bridge."

Or we could simply acknowledge what should be obvious, when you think about it: All of those things will combine to produce that mind-blowing apparition of a "veritable chariot of fire winging its way recklessly through the public thoroughfares."
- All we know about "D. C. Freeman" is that he or she wrote "The Stolen Ten Thousand," which by a wonderful coincidence happens to be the story we just read.
- "Trams," "trolley cars," "street-cars"—depending on where you live, they're all names for the same thing; for history and background on this charming mode of transportation see (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).
- What do a major league baseball team and trolley cars have in common? See 
this Gizmodo article (HERE) to find out.
- Who or what killed trolley cars? The answer isn't as simple as the history books 
would have us believe; go (HERE) for more.
- And finally, if you've arrived at a point in your life where you have absolutely 
nothing else to think about, then consider the "trolley problem" (HERE).

The bottom line: "Trams and dusty trees."

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