Re: I'll pop for the transfer

07/11/07 - posted by Alexy

Thanks to those who put the change box and the punch cards up for viewing. By the time I was a senior (Lowell), the conductors suspected I was older than 17 (not true) and were grumpy and reluctant about accepting my card. On the other hand, I knew a beautiful blonde young lady, V. (same class) whose card was often punched several times in the same square. The conductors obviously thought she was pretty cute.

Can't blame those guys, though. Teenage boys were doubtless the bane of their existence, what with the kids sneaking rides, pulling the trolley connections off the overhead wires, trying to use bum transfers.

Those transfers were something else. Complicated, color coded, as I remember, with street intersection markings, dates and times. All designed to keep the rider from making, God forbid, a round trip. A conductor could look at your transfer (and believe me, they did) and know right away, if you'd strayed from your appointed intersection. Then there'd be no ride without paying another fare. My biggest problem was trying to ride the #7 car across the west end of Golden Gate Park, after riding the #5 car (Fulton St.) down to the ocean. I lived on 47th Ave. and I really only wanted to cross the park and get off at the first Sunset stop. Of course, the conductors were sure I was trying to use my transfer for a round trip downtown, (the #7 headed back eastward on Lincoln Way). So I'd spend the trip across the park pleading my case. Then hop off.

Just one more thing, as Columbo would say. Riding the chained up cowcatcher on the rear of the street cars was great fun. You could do it if the car was crowded (commute times from downtown), and the conductor was too busy to catch you. The N car tunnel ride was the biggie for me. We'd roar through the tunnel at high speed, hanging on the outside of the car for dear life. Talk about foolish, dangerous behavior!

Apologies for all this. It's just that all the messages about streetcars, transfers and punch cards really got me going.

The Western Neighborhoods Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.