A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Hilary & The Marpole Tram
Monday, January 21, 2008

Trams and streetcars have always been part of my life. Perhaps because of tram 35 that used to take me to my abuelita's house in downtown Buenos Aires in the late 40s. I wrote about it here. The tram appeared again as the Avenida Revolución tram in Mexico City. These trams were silent, sleek and comfortable. They were exactly like the trams I saw in my several visits to San Francisco and which ran or run on Market Street. When my mother taught in Veracruz, Mexico in the late 60s I visited her with my soon to be wife Rosemary. Rosemary and I would sit at the Café de la Parroquia on the city centre plaza (el Zócalo) and as we sipped or lecheros (Jarochan version of the café con leche) we would listen to the wonderful combination of the nearby marimbas and the clanging of the trams. As soon as we had sat down a waiter would bring us two tall empty glasses with spoons. We would hit the glasses with our spoons and a young boy with two huge kettles would show up. He would pour coffee (without spiling a drop) until we yelled, "Basta," then he would pour the hot milk. I cannot imagine or think of Veracruz and their inhabitants (Jarochos) without thinking of the sounds of those trams and the smell of aromotic coffee and the brine of the nearby port.

In 1967 I returned to Veracruz from Buenos Aires in a tramp steame that stopped in New Orleans for New Years. It was there that I took the St Charles Streetcar and then visited Bourbon Street and saw my first stripper. The streetcar was thrilling and the stripper a disappointment.

Sometime around 1970 my friend Andrew Taylor was passing an Avenida Revolución streetcar as it was turning around a glorieta (traffic circle). Andrew was studying engineering. He received a free lesson that ended up being expensive. Since the wheels of the tram could not really swivel all that much, the body of the tram stuck out and demolished Andrew's Renault Dauphine. He escaped without a scrape.

Around 1977 I took these pictures of the boarded up trams in the storage area by Lougheed Highway and Willingdon. I had spotted them and I knew I wanted to photograph them. I calle BC Hydro (then in charge of BC Transit) and talked to Harry Atterton who was the PR man. He gave me permission to take pictures and I took my Hilary along. One of the results of this was that Atterton hired me to take PR pictures for him and when he moved to Air Canada I did the same there.


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