“Clang, clang, clang went the trolley…”
Actually only two clangs are needed to say “let’s go” on the trolley. I learned that today at the Shoreline Trolley Museum. From 1900 on, the trolley ran from the New Haven Green to Shore Beach, for just a nickel. Over time, the trolleys all over the state, including to the “electric park” for the rides.
The electric trolley grew out of the horse-drawn car, but was a whole lot cleaner. (By the way, the term “teamster” comes from driving a team of horses.) Through the years, the trolley car developed, not looking so much like a stage coach any more. The sides were straightened out and sides were closed off to help endure the winter. In the summer, the car had removable side panels for the breezes. And the conductor finally got a windshield!
Imagine my surprise when our trolley car was called “Desire.” Yes, that Streetcar named Desire. Same line. Our car was retired about 1959 and brought from New Orleans for this museum. An enormous key is needed to start the trolley and then some muscle power to shift the gears, as I learned in the museum. We rode the trolley three miles through the marshes not too far from the shore, speeding up to 25 mph, although friction allowed us to coast a lot, too. You can imagine why some cities are considering reviving their trolleys–efficient and fun.
When we reached the end of the line, me humming along with Judy Garland in my mind, we all got up and pulled our seats back to face the other way, and we were ready to return.
At the car barn, we saw all kinds of trolley cars, many damaged in Hurricane Sandy, so needing restoration. The corporate car, which was used to check the lines around the state, but also for boondoggles, was pretty impressive. Note the stained glass windows. It even is outfitted with a kitchen and bath–bigger than some New York apartments.
Pretty fancy for a trolley car!
I went on, not by trolley, but by car on I95 (ugh), to the Florence Griswold Museum to see the “Animal/Vegetable/Mineral” exhibit, which was good. But I swept away by the Griswold house and it story. Daughter of a ship captain, “Miss Florence” grew up in the 1817 Old Lyme mansion, but couldn’t swing it financially.
So she turned it into a boarding house, soon attracting New York artist Henry Ward Ranger. Ranger started bringing his artist friends in the summer, and soon the Old Lyme Art Colony was born. Most famous were Childe Hassam and Willard Metcalf, but about 200 Tonalist and Impressionist artists worked there over the first decades of the 20th century.
Here Ranger painted the moonlight on the right and challenged Henry Rankin Poore to finish the scene, painted on the left. So sweet!
Most remarkable of all is the dining room where over 25 artists worked on panels. I love the beautiful still life the curators created with the panels and red, red apples.
And then there’s the panoramic painting by Poore, a bit of a satire of the Old Lyme Artist Colony, and a real charmer. Here’s a portion of it. Two bottles there. The bottle of paint or turpentine almost full. The bottle of liquor, well, almost empty.
And I think you can see most of very long, thin painting in the video below.
By the way, I started my day at the Boat House restaurant on the Quinnipiac River about 5 minutes from my apartment. What a view! What a day!