15329A Visit to #127
- Apr 3, 2012My wife, son and myself visited our own #127 at the Orange Empire museum. Here is the story of my visit.
I'll also have some pictures to post.
A Visit to #127
I paid a visit to our old friend #127 at the Orange Empire museum. I found her dozing,
stuck at the back of one of the barns.
"Who are you," she said suspiciously.
"I'm Saul from Gloversville," I said.
"Get me out of here," she said. " I want to go back to my old tracks and friends. Where
am I anyway?"
"You're in Perris, California. At a museum."
I thought about the life 127 had led after leaving the FJ&G. It wasn't pretty. Being sent to
Utah and being fitted with an ugly too tall trolley pole and allowed to become shabby and worn
out. And then the final indignity, being sent somewhere to house migrant workers at a pickle
"Get me out of here," 127 said again. "I have no friends here."
"That's not true. There are many people here trying to make you whole again. And
what's more you have new paint job with the original Bamberger emblem."
"I didn't like those people."
"At least you got a new home, more than a lot of your barnmates got."
"What happened after I left the FJ&G?" she asked. "Do my friends from the barn still
wait in front of the Trask Cigar Store on the Four Corners while a passenger dashes in to buy a
"It's all changed," I said. "The trolleys are all gone now, and so are the tracks."
127 thought for a moment. " I miss the boys and girls who waved at me as I dashed to
Schenectady. Lots of my passengers went to the GE plant, every day. GE is still there, I hope."
"It's not like it used to be, and the boys and girls are all old folks now, those that are
127 looked sad. "One day they said I couldn't cross the Mohawk River bridge anymore.
And I was sent to the barn and then far away to Utah, of all places."
The ice in the river had made the bridge piers unsafe I thought, and trolley service ended
in Scotia because 127 couldn't cross the river and go around the park in Schenectady. I
mentioned this to 127 and she looked angry now.
"I wasn't my fault, I'm light, my body is all aluminum," she said.
I hesitated for a moment and said something 127 didn't want to hear. "But you were built
to go in only one direction."
"I know," she said. "My sisters in Philly were built to go backwards and forwards. My
owners didn't want to spend the extra money to make me go both ways."
"We'll never know," I said.
"Get me out of here," 127 said again.
"But you have lots of friends here," I said pointing to two shiny PCC cars from Los
"They're all show and no go," 127 said. "They plodded around the city while I could
almost fly on my way to Schenectady. And also, they're narrow gauge. What a joke".
127 didn't realize she had a ways to go before she could almost fly again. She had a set
of trucks that almost matched the originals. Her seats were back in place but looked pretty
"You said you're from Gloversville." 127 said. "When you get back home say hello to
my friends in the barn."
127 had already forgotten what I said, or didn't want to face the truth. I didn't want to tell
her what happened to the barn a few years ago. Instead I said I wanted to walk around and visit
with the other trolleys.
"What a bunch of creaky old fuddie duddies," she said. "They're all wood and held
together by hunks of rusty iron, not like me, all aluminum."
"You should all be grateful, out here in the desert, where it never snows."
"I don't miss those New York winters," 127 said, "with ice on the wires, and snow hiding
my tracks, and Mr. Ruggles, the rotary snow plow not quite up to the task."
I walked away from 127 to visit the line car. "Who are you?" he said gruffly.
"I'm a friend of 127."
"What a hayseed," he said. "I hobnobbed with the stars of Hollywood, and without me
none of them would have gone anywhere."
I stopped by a snoozing old flaky orange steeplecab."What do you want?" he said.
"I'm visiting 127."
"That old babe, she really puts on airs, being better than the rest of us," the steeple cab
said. "But back then we did the real work, moving freight cars all over."
"If you say so," I said walking away.
The PCC cars looked at me with disdain, like they knew I would never be one of their
passengers who were all stars or movie producers, dressed up and very proper, waiting for a ride
to the studio entrances for very important meetings.
I wandered back to 127 stuck at the back of the barn. "You're back," she said. "Had
enough of those high class Hollywood types."
I said that their passengers were important too, in entertainment and film.
"Oh yeah, my passengers made things that were really important, gloves and all sorts of
leather things in Gloversville and Johnstown, carpets in Amsterdam, and in Schenectady they
made machines, big ones."
"I hope I can be one of your passengers some day," I said enthusiastically.
"Yeah, sure," she said. "We'll go all of a mile in a circle," she sulked.
I said that I had to get back to my winter place in Glendale.
"I thought you said you were from Gloversville," 127 said.
"My real home now is in Michigan," I responded.
"How can I believe anything you say," 127 said. "Say what year is it anyway? No one
tells me anything."
"Wow, a lot of time has passed. I'll bet the new FJ&G trolleys are pretty fancy."
"They were all replaced by buses and now they're gone too."
"Buses, ugh, good riddance. How do people get to Schenectady?"
"They drive automobiles."
"I hate them, always getting in my way. Once in a while I had to teach them a lesson. See
the dents on my front."
"Your dents have all been fixed by your friends in the car shop."
"Big deal," 127 said. "Without my pole, I'm not going anywhere. Hey what happened to
those freight train types across town?"
"They're gone too."
"Good riddance again, what a low life stinky smelly bunch." 127 dozed off again.
I gently patted her headlight and said I'd come back.
"Come back soon," she said quietly.
Saul B. Kalbfeld
Detroit Motion Picture @ Stage Employees Local 38 IATSE
SMPTE Life Member
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