A Foot Saga and a Brave Dad
We rode the trolley from our stop on Silver Spring Street in Providence’s North End to the terminal downtown. On one journey, when we reached the terminal, the trolley driver opened the doors to let the passengers off. When we alit, my brother Jim went first followed by my father and then me. My father turned to help me down (he was always the gentleman). As he did, the trolley driver closed the door on my foot!
We started to yell and bang on the window where a man was sitting but did not seem to grasp the situation. The trolley started to move, and the terror I saw in my father’s face was something I never want to see again. The man who was in the seat before the doorway was looking out the window and, finally, after my father had been running, holding me up, figured out what was going on and yelled to the driver to stop! He did and opened the doors.
My foot was released, and my father was almost in tears. As the driver came out of the trolley, my father’s Irish got the better of him and he ran over to the driver and, with his fists clenched and speaking between closed teeth, said, “I oughta bust you right in the mouth!”
I grabbed my Pop and said, “No Papa, please don’t hit him!” He turned to me and away from the driver and pulled my brother and I into the comfort station; a place you could go to wait for your trolley in warmth and comfort (thus the name, I imagine).
There, in a little cubby hole no bigger than a phone booth, the starter had an office where he kept track of the in-and-out times of the trolleys. My Pop knew him, and he went over to let him know what happened and to see to it that the driver be reprimanded (not so politely).
It wasn’t until years later that I realized that the terror on my father’s face was of the thoughts going on in his mind, every split second, knowing that he could not possibly run with me as fast as that trolley.