Trains and Bostonia

>The physical condition of the traction properties in Chicago is now at its maximum, and unquestionably is above that of any other city in the United States.
–Bion J. Arnold, Chief, Board of Supervising Engineers. _Citizens’ Bulletin_, Cincinnati. June 15, 1912.

In the old days, back in 1630, it took two days to get a shipment of frieght from Winnisimet (Chelsea) to Boston, and by ox cart at that. Today, the trip via passenger train takes 10 minutes. This may not be true.

>On a normal saturday in June, 1909,… the number of passengers compelled to ride without seats was 88,490. –Ralph E. Heilman, “The Chicago Subway Problem.” _The Journal of Political Economy_, 22:10. (1914) pp992-1005.

The first chartered transportation service on the continent was born to replace this frustrating circuitous journey through Malden, Camrbidge, Brighton and Roxbury. Of what did the Boston air smell? Surely, the stifled city breeze was not yet even a speck on the horizon… What colors were the waters of Boston harbor? The infamous Charles river?

The railroad, it means many things to this people. _Tink… Tink… Tink… I’ve been a-workin’ on the_ the metronomic slaving of sledge against iron, spike inexorably driven deeper into the virginstolen earth. Our ancestors, or perhaps the slaves they brought, or the workers they hi4red — those who built a country out of blood, sweat and tears. Good ‘ol fashioned hard work. Don’t see much of that anymore, not these days. The few who wield a hammer do so with righteous indignation, and only between catcalling a passing piece of ass.

>As if the first railroad workers _didn’t_ ogle women? If they didn’t, it was only because there were none. Whatever version you tell, it is still just that, a story. You join in with all the other bodies. Down, descend into the bowels of the city, hot stale air rushes past, floating to freedom. Further into the holes carved by sandhogs, or those huge tunnel-driller machines that chew through the bedrock pillow, it’s seismic shocks lost to those above. The ground-rodents, if there are any left, are the only ones who sense that something is wrong, something is different. They run into their burrows to hide, safe with the young — but the feeling only grows stronger– deeper, darker, louder. Instinct has failed.

I rode the T to work almost every day of almost every summer since I was 16. A quick, lonely walk down Beacon St. in Newton Center. Beacon St. in Newton Center is similar to Beacon St. in Boston by name and association only. Beacon St. leaves the quaint Victorians for the anachronism that is Newton Center proper. When we first moved here, my parents remember for me a 2 screen movie-theater, and an assortment of other stores that sold things beyond boutique jeans and mortgages. Newton Center is the new banking capital of Newton. Who knew there could be so many banks? Everyone I know goes to one of two banks. In Newton Center alone, there are _at least_ 822 separate bank branches. Sky scrapers cast morose inky shadows and blot out the daycare I remember. They have since posted floodlights above the playground, which are used only during daylight hours. The buildings are comprised of alternating shops and banks, one to a floor, a thin winding twisting monstrosity of a structure, all the way up up to the reaches of our little slice of ionosphere.