Charlie on the M.T.A
|I grew up near Boston, Massachusetts, knowing the things everyone knew. A milkshake was properly called a frappe, a water fountain was a bubbler, and Catholic schools were always better than public. Always have at least two snow shovels handy, summertime brings 100% humidity, and even in hot weather swimming in the Atlantic is like hugging an iceberg.
Another thing everyone knew was the song "Charlie On The M.T.A. M.T.A. stood for the Metropolitan Transit Authority and covered all public transport. Charlie On The M.T.A. was written in 1949 by Bess Lomax Steiner and Jacqueline Steiner as a campaign song for mayoral candidate Walter O'Brien. It told the story of Charlie, a man who couldn't get off the train because he didn't possess the nickel needed to disembark.The candidate lost, but The Kingston Trio released a version in 1959 that changed the name Walter to a fictional George.( Walter had been accused of being a communist, and the song wouldn't receive airplay with his name in it.) This song became a hit for the Kingston Trio, and remains a local favorite.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority was renamed in 1964 to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which made it the M.B.T.A. Most people refer to it as the "T". In 2006, the last token in the old system was purchased and the M.B.T.A began using electronic ticketing. The pass was named the Charliecard, and today Charlie still rides through Boston.
Charley on the M.T.A
These are the times that try men's souls
In the course of our nation's history
The people of Boston have rallied bravely
Whenever the rights of men have been threatened
Today a new crisis has arisen
The Metropolitan Transit Authority, better known as the MTA
Is attempting to levy a burdensome tax on the population
In the form of a subway fare increase
Citizens, hear me out, this could happen to you
Let me tell you the story of a man named Charley
On this tragic and fateful day
He put ten cents in his pocket, kissed his wife and family
Went to ride on the MTA
Did he ever return, no he never returned
And his fate is still unlearned
He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned.
Charley handed in his dime at the Kendall Square Station
And he changed for Jamaica Plain
When he got there the conductor told him, "One more nickel."
Charley could not get off that train.
Now all night long Charley rides through the tunnels
Saying, "What will become of me?
How can I afford to see my sister in Chelsea
Or my cousin in Roxbury?"
Churl's wife goes down to the Scollay Square station
Every day at quarter past two
And through the open window she hands Charley a sandwich
As the train comes rumblin' through.
Now did you ever wonder
why she never puts a nickle in his sandwich of cheese and ham?
well the woman has a secret
she wants Charlie on that subway
'cause the woman has another man!
Now you citizens of Boston, don't you think it's a scandal
That the people have to pay and pay
Vote for George O'Brien and fight the fare increase
Get poor Charley off the MTA
music: The Ship that Never Returned; also The Wreck of the Old 97