I was walking through downtown on my way to take pictures of a giant naked man when I walked across Akard street. Peering down the canyon between edifice walls of glittering glass I spotted an ancient little machine shaking on its set of steel rails. The sign under its cyclops eye of a light said “Matilda.” It was an M-Line trolley car I have not ridden yet. So I detoured and climbed on board right before it took off for its route down McKinney and around uptown.
Matilda was built in 1925 in Melbourne, Australia, for the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board. It operated in Australia for sixty years until it was purchased for use in Dallas. It still ran great and only needed cosmetic modifications (it looks like these were new paint and added air conditioning).
It’s a long car, with an unusual configuration. It is divided up into three sections, with longitudinal red velvet benches on each end, and ordinary wooden seats in the center. It’s a beautiful streetcar with a gorgeous interior. Matilda runs a lot smoother than the older (by only a few years), shorter car, Rosie, I rode a couple of weeks ago.
It was bitter cold outside and very few people were out and about. A couple of commuters were on the car, plus a mother and her five sons. Yes, five boys – the oldest looked about twelve. They were good kids… but… man! Five! The youngest was a toddler and he had that devilish smile. Whenever they looked away from him he would take off running down the aisle.
When we reached the end of the line I was talking to the boys about the turntable under construction (it is almost finished) when one of the boys said, “You know we’re going to have a sister,” and pointed to their mom.
Man… five boys and a girl. I don’t know if I could do that.
Car 636, “Petunia” coming back the other way. I’ll have to get down there and ride that one soon.
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