After a forty-year interruption, streetcar service has been restored to Canal Street in New Orleans.
The first stop, at Canal and Salcedo, is just a block and a half from our house, so I thought I’d check it out. Despite the early hour — 3:10 AM — there was a large crowd gathered there. People were handing out souvenir doubloons and commemorative pins. A guy with a clipboard was having people sign up in order. I was number 58.
There were plenty of people there who remembered riding this streetcar line back in the proverbial day, until it was discontinued in 1964.
As the big moment approached, people formed a line, and it may have approximated the numeric order on the guy’s clipboard, but it seemed like a big jumble. When the streetcar pulled up, it stopped short of where the line had formed, to the consternation of the people at the head. I’m not sure, but I think Warren Bell may have been the first customer, or close to it.
There were some boos but people were generally friendly and a good mood pervaded the crowd. Some guys were singing songs like, “O Lord I want to be on that streetcar when the saints go marching in.” I was busy videotaping, and I just didn’t feel like jostling to try to get on board, so I didn’t actually ride the streetcar. Instead I watched it take off, then came back home to write this. It’s a quarter ’til four in the morning, and I’ve got to get up in about three hours if I’m going to make it to Baton Rouge for the Green Party of Louisiana presidential caucus.
Update — I was on the front page of the Monday paper!
What’s that? You can’t see me? Here I am: