Streetcar memories In The 50's

     I can remember riding streetcars with my mother on her shopping trips to the department stores in downtown Baltimore in the late 40's and early 50's. We rode the No. 14 from our house on Linard Street, just off Edmondson Ave., one block west of the Edgewood Theater. In April, 1952, four months before my eighth birthday, we moved to Rockwell ave. in Catonsville. Fortunately, our new house was only a block away from the Neeplier stop on the No. 9 trolley line that ran from Catonsville Junction to Ellicott City.

     The tracks of the No. 9 trolley were the highway to adventure for me as a young boy. Following them westward led into the woods which were filled with all sorts of animals. Vernon's Roller Rink appeared where the tracks crossed Oella Ave. before they headed back into the woods. Where the tracks passed under Westchester Ave. high above, a cut had been made through some granite rocks that were always a challange to climb. Then, just a short distance away, the Patapsco River and Ellicott City on the other side.

     In 1954 I was taught to ride the streetcars by myself so I could travel to the downtown YMCA for swimming classes. On Saturday mornings I would board the N0. 9 trolley at Neeplier and transfer to the No. 14 at the Rolling Road loop. The one way cost to ride downtown was 5 cents plus a 2 cent zone charge. After classes at the "Y" I would board the No. 8 line to return home. Many times I would get off in Catonsville to attend the 2:00 matinee at the Alpha Theater. (In 1958 I did a brief stint as a pinsetter at the bowling below the theater.) After the movie I would walk to the Junction where I could use the transfer I had gotten to ride the No. 9 back to Neeplier. I also had the choice of using the 9 - 14 or 9 - 8 when going to Boy Scout meetings at Troop 399 which met at St. Timothys Church on Ingleside Ave.

     I became a regular rider of the No. 9 just for the joy of riding. At the Ellicott City end I would help the motorman by reversing the cane back seats while he switched the trolley and moved the throttle to the other end of the car. Once, when there was no one else aboard, he even let me "operate" the throttle handle as the car travelled through the woods towards Catonsville Junction.

     In the early 60's buses replaced the No. 9 trolley. The buses, which ran right by our front door, were short lived however. The bus route from Catonsville Junction to Ellicott City - Edmondson Ave. to Old Frederick Rd. to Rockwell Ave. to Westchester Ave. to Oella Ave. to Old Frederick Rd. to Frederick Rd. - took longer than the trolley which travelled a relatively straight route through woods for much of the journey. Also around that period of time the No. 23 bus replaced the No. 14 streetcar.

     I enlisted in the Navy after graduating from Catonsville High School in 1962 and had the experience of riding one of the last B&O passenger trains to and from boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. While serving in the Navy, Baltimore's last streetcar line, the No. 8, was replaced with buses. I was sorry I missed the opportunity to have taken a final ride on it.

     On my last three visits back to Baltimore I have had the pleasure to once again ride the streetcars at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. Just sitting inside an old car brings back the fondest memories of those carefree days of my youth.


Steve McCahan
Jacksonville, Florida

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