Sunday, October 26, 2008

Whiplash on the T

Offically part of the Red Line, you have to change trains to take a Mattapan High-Speed trolley. It may be part of the Red Line, but it is really a world apart. Unlike the industrial chrome and scarlet of other Red Line trains, the Mattapan Line sports a soothing color scheme. Its cars are painted cream on thier top halves and creamsicle orange on the bottom. Just about everything about the Ashmont-Mattapan Line is soothing. This is a train that runs through a peaceful cemetaray, after all.

While waiting on the new overhead loop for the next trolley headed to Mattapan, we conversed with our fellow passengers. This is in Ashmont, one of the freindlier locales in Dorchester and maybe in all of Boston. People were chatting away, passing the time, discussing the upcoming election, swapping recipes and debating the merits of the upcoming
Dorchester Symphony Orchestra program. We stood by an elderly gentleman wearing a neck brace.

We asked the old timer if we could help carry his bags. Uncommon courtesy and good-natured neighborliness are Ashmont trademarks and we were infected by all the good will around us. He declined saying he was as fit as a fiddle. He said, "I don't mind a little discomfort. What doesn't kill me makes me stronger."

We asked how he got into his current condition, indicating the brace on his neck. He said, "I take the High-Speed every day. Two weeks ago we got a wicked jolt crossing Central Avenue in Milton. A kid on a bicycle pulled in front of the train and the driver slammed on the brakes. Can't blame the driver. I'd blame the kid if I had to, but who can blame a kid?"

He said, "I went to the chiropractor in Mattapan Square. He fitted me with this brace and I only have to wear it another week. It's no bother..." Our conversation was cut short as a trolley ascended the ramp up to the platform.

Everyone was seated, the elderly man in the front while we took the back seat. The trolley ran with its usual efficiency to all its stops: Cedar Grove, Butler, Milton, Central Ave., Valley Road, Capen Street, Mattapan. The old timer disembarked at Capen Street. He waved in our direction when he got up to go. We had business at Simco in Mattapan so we continued to the end of the line. Unlike the heavy rolling stock on the rest of the Red Line, the Mattapan trolleys were built in the 1940s. The are as light as air and they ride that way, drifting to and fro on thier tracks as the breeze off the Neponset River pushes them.

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