Petunia & Betty & the mini dachshund

100_8686

In July of 1989 the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority achieved its goal of returning streetcar service to the city of Dallas, Texas when the streetcars began rolling down the tracks in the Uptown district.  All the cars are authentic streetcars and run 365 days a year with no fee to riders.  They can be chartered for private events too.

100_8704
 

Petunia

 

Petunia was part of an order of 25 cars from the J.G. Brill Company and was introducted into service in 1920 by the Dallas Railway Company.  While she featured many safety improvements her ride was bumpy and uncomfortable to riders.  She remained in service until 1947 and then was stripped of wheels, motor, and electrical wiring and converted into a residence.  Today, thankfully, she has been re-fitted with shock absorbers.

I rode Petunia in 2015 and was delighted with her details as well as the Uptown neighborhood.  At the end of the line the driver takes a break while the trolley is turned around via a large rotating wheel.  Petunia has doors and operating contrals at either end of the car. At that time the M-Line (as it is nicknamed) was pet friendly although I had a struggle getting the dog on and off as the steps were steep!

* * *

IMG_2634

Betty

Betty was built in 1926 by American Car Company for the Dallas Railway and Terminal Company and was still in service in 1956 when Dallas ended their trolley routes. She was then converted into a children’s playhouse. Upon her return to Dallas she was renovated and equipped with air-conditioning.

I rode her in July 2017 and was delighted with her interior and once again enjoyed the ride.  The afternoon was cool as rain showers were approaching and the windows on the trolley were open. As I stepped on I asked if dogs were permitted as there was no mention on their web site about still being dog friendly.  The operator said no, but told me to come on board that it was okay since he had a mini dachshund at home! I hopped on and Bree enjoyed her ride, even sniffing the air through an open window.

* * *

What is a trolley and how does it operate? The McKinney Avenue Transit Authority web site offers this explanation:

A trolley car (or streetcar) is similar to a railroad passenger car. Like a train, a streetcar runs on a set of rails. Streetcar tracks are usually in or alongside city streets. An electric streetcar is sometimes referred to as a “trolley”, because it has a special pole that extends from the roof of the car to an electrified overhead wire, similar to a telephone or utility cable. The trolley pole collects power from this overhead cable and sends it to the motors located underneath the streetcar. The operator “drives” the streetcar with a controller.

The first street cars were introduced in 1828 and were pulled by horses or mules. The first electric powered streetcars began operating in 1888 in Richmond, Virginia and quickly caught on in other cities. Just to note that San Francisco’s famous streetcars are actually cable cars that are pulled along by a special cable located under the street in a slot between the rails; they have been operating continuously for over 100 years.

Dallas discontinued their streetcar service in 1956 after pressure from various groups. The 4 remaining streetcar lines were closed and Dallas opted for modern bus service.

Funding for the M-Line operational costs is provided through an agreement with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit as well as donations from other sources including public donations. To see a schedule click on the link above.

The Little Elephant

IMG_1642_edited-1.jpg
February 2017, temporary location

This cast stone elephant is charming, isn’t it?  It is one of two that are part of the Hertzberg Circus Collection.  For many years it and its companion stood in front of the former San Antonio Public Library at 210 W. Market Street.  Everytime I walked by the building it never failed to make me smile!

The little elephants have a long story that, thankfully, has a happy ending for them. Harry Hertzberg was a local attorney and avid circusana collector who left his extensive collection to the City of San Antonio when he passed away in 1940.  The collection was then housed in the former San Antonio Public Library building and the first elephant was installed at the front; the city continued to add to the collection doubling its original size.

IMG_2466_edited-1.jpg

Five elephants were cast by local artist Julian Sandoval.  A fellow circus collector commissioned one for Mr. Hertzberg as a gift; it was displayed on Mr. Hertzberg’s lawn until his death. The second elephant was donated to the collection when its owner passed away in 1989.  It was installed opposite the original elephant in front of the old library.

By 2001 the circus collection contained 40,000 items and the cost of maintaining the museum was prohibitive. Per the terms of Mr. Hertzberg’s will the collection then passed to the Witte Museum. One elephant was installed in front of the museum and named “Cinnamon Candy”. Countless children (including my oldest grandchild) posed for pictures with this little elephant.

IMG_2465_edited-1.jpg
Cinnamon Candy in her new location, 2017

A re-painting of the elephant was sponsored by the Bolner family, owners of Bolner’s Fiesta Spices in 2006; conservation work has also been done to preserve the elephant. When the Witte underwent a major renovation the elephant was moved to the side of the museum, close to the temporary entrance.  When the renovations were finished the little stone elephant was moved to its new location in front of the B. Naylor Morton Research Center. I’m not sure where the other elephant is – time for a trip to the museum!

 

Flag Day

IMG_2460_edited-1.jpg

June 14th is celebrated as Flag Day; however, it is one of the lesser known American observances.  The flag had been created by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. Various celebrations had been taking place for many years to honor the American flag, but it wasn’t until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation making June 14th a day of honoring the American flag.

“I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as Flag Day with special patriotic exercises,”

June 14th was officially designated as Flag Day in 1949. So fly those flags today and show your spirit!

 

Kugel ball

IMG_9963_edited-1.jpg

I’m not a scientist and certainly don’t understand physics.  But I love things like this!

The kugel ball is a perfectly balanced sphere that weighs 5000 pounds yet rotates freely. Pressurized water flowing between the ball and the sphere supports the weight and allows the ball to be easily rotated. Trust me, I don’t understand it!

And, just to note, kugel is German for ball or sphere.

Fun facts about Fat Tuesday

 

Have you ever wondered what Fat Tuesday is all about?  I wasn’t raised in a family or religion that observed the season of Lent; I didn’t really know what it was until I joined a denomination that does observe the season. Likewise, I was unfamiliar with Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras.  Since we are heading into the beginning of Lent I thought it might be fun to look at these two observances and how they came to be, especially since they were originally one and the same.

Eating pancakes and going to Mardi Gras celebrations are fun activities, but their origins are thought to have started in the Middle Ages as a way to prepare for Lent. Since eating meats, fats, eggs, milk, and fish were restricted during Lent families would have three-day celebrations beginning on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and culminating in a great feast on Tuesday.  The purpose of the celebration was to consume these items that would spoil during the forty days of Lenten fasting. By the beginning of the 20th century the celebration had been shortened to the one-day observance of Shrove Tuesday.  This term was derived from the word shrive which means to confess one’s sins and receive absolution from the priest.

So where do the pancakes fit in to Shrove Tuesday?  The English gave us this tradition of eating as many pancakes as humanly possible as a way to use up milk, fats, and eggs on hand.  It’s easy to see where the nickname Fat Tuesday came from, right?  But the Fat Tuesday nickname actually came from France as a reference to eating up all the fatty foods on that day.  Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday.

Today Mardi Gras is associated with parties, parades, and revelry in the streets of many cities. It is thought that this tradition came about as a result of the Spring Equinox celebrations of the Romans and ancient pagan peoples of Europe, although many think that the celebrations began as a way to “let it all hang out” before the somber Lenten season’s restrictions mandated observance.  These pre-Ash Wednesday celebrations were referred to as “Carnivals” which is derived from the Latin term carnem levare, meaning “to take away the flesh”.  Most likely their exuberant excesses led to the Church’s decision to shorten the celebration to one day!

I hope you enjoy the fun associated with this week’s Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras/Carnival activities.

 

 

 

 

 

A few more Legos

IMG_2821

Liberty Bell – incredible detail! The crack fascinated me as it always has in pictures!

IMG_2828.JPG

Supreme Court – replica is almost 10 feet long.  It took 3 Lego Masters 450 hours to assemble.  And, yes, that’s the grandson in the picture! He’s still into Legos a little and prefers the large pieces that have gadzillion pieces and take all night to put together!

IMG_2837

The “back door” of the Supreme Court.

IMG_2823

This happy little quintet was in a glass case making a good picture impossible.  Some of the little people were actually the Simpson family!

IMG_2839.JPG

Jaydon was excited about the Lincoln Memorial since he’s visited it. Likewise, I was excited to see the Old North Church (One if by land, Two if by sea) since I’ve visited it.  Part of the fun was finding the exhibits in the mall!

 

Southern Traction Company

IMG_0602_edited-1

The Southern Traction Company provided interurban transportation between Corsicana and Dallas from 1912 to 1941. Its sister company, the Texas Traction Company, provided service between Dallas, Denton, and Waco; in 1917 they would merge to form the Texas Electric Railway. The interurban trains would stop to pick up passengers when flagged down and offered affordable and more frequent service than the steam rail lines.

IMG_0603_edited-1

Car number 305 was one of 22 passenger cars that ran on this line. Travelers were offered a choice of a smoking or non-smoking section, one toilet, and a water fountain.  After 1932 there was no conductor and cars were configured for pay-as-you-go commuters. Just to note that there were 2 seats on either side of the narrow aisle where travelers were squeezed together much like passengers on an airplane today!

IMG_0605_edited-1

The Visitor Center didn’t open until later in the morning on the day I was visiting, but I looked through the windows and they had a nice display of memorabilia and informational resources.  I’ll stop in on my next visit.

Between 2 buildings

IMG_0612_edited-1.jpgDowntown Pocket Park sits quietly between 2 buildings in historic downtown Corsicana. I noticed this space from across the street, but didn’t realize what it was until I was closer.  It wasn’t just an empty space between 2 buildings, it was a little park!

IMG_0619.JPG

Corsicana’s Art in Public Places committee selected this space to be its first project.  What a delightful space they created.  A bubbling fountain and ample seating spaces make it the perfect place to step into and sit peacefully for a few minutes.

IMG_0620.JPG

I’m not sure what was originally in this space.  From the street there was a tile entrance that advertised “Virginia Dare For those who care”. Virginia Dare is a long-time producer of vanilla extracts and other flavorings, so it is hard to determine what kind of business was here.  Perhaps a soda fountain?

IMG_0618.JPG

Downtown Pocket Park is available to rent for private functions and has public restrooms.