Streetcar

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
It is hard to say why some things are remembered, but this insignificant encounter remains crystal clear in my mind.

Submitted: August 11, 2015

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Submitted: August 11, 2015

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I can never seem to remember the important things in life. I am particularly bad when it comes to birthdays and anniversaries. The greeting card industry has made a small fortune selling me "Belated … (whatever)" items.

It's quite different with things that don't matter. My head is filled with inane stuff. For instance, I remember in great detail the first time I heard the song "Lucille" by Little Richard. I can describe the event right down to the design of the Specialty record label.

A certain memory stays near the top of my mind. It is one of the earliest of them all, and it concerns the most trivial event imaginable. It is about something that happened just before I entered kindergarten, a fleeting encounter that could easily have been forgotten.

Mother and I used to make frequent trips to Grandma's house uptown. We would catch the Gentilly streetcar on Franklin Avenue at Dorgenois Street. We would transfer to the Magazine bus at Canal Street for the remainder of the trip. Mother made sure that I knew exactly how to get to there and back in the event that we might get separated.

We often saw a certain man along the way. He was of medium build. He dressed casually. If I remember correctly, he also sported a mustache, which was somewhat uncommon in the 1940s. I always wondered why he didn't have to go to work during the day like Daddy did.

We saw him one time when the car we were riding stopped to embark passengers on Royal Street in the French Quarter. I waved at him through the window. He flashed a hint of a smile and looked away as if he was absorbed in thought.

Mother slapped my wrist. "Don't you wave at that man, Charlie," she commanded, "it's impolite."

"But Ma, we see him all the time. Who is he?"

"That's Mr. Williams." she replied, "Now sit down and behave. Grandma won't give you any treats if I tell her you've been unruly."

I have no idea why that memory should be so vivid. Thirty years passed before I even realized the encounter might have significance and before I figured out what happened next.

Mr. Williams didn't board our car like the other people did. I think I know why. You see, two different transit routes shared the same set of streetcar tracks on Royal Street back then. I am now convinced that Tennessee Williams was waiting on the other streetcar, the one he would soon make famous, the streetcar named Desire.

Copyright © 2012 - 2015 W.C. Bell; All rights reserved.


© Copyright 2019 Whiskey Charlie. All rights reserved.

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