Tag Archives: public transportation
When I was growing up, dinnertime for Mom, Dad and me was sitting around the table in our small kitchen. Mom and Dad would sometimes be talking about the household budget while little ears lapped it up as well as the food – often leftover roast. But Dad had one habit that drove Mom crazy.
He looked at his watch, then up at the wall clock above the table, then back to his watch, lifting up the expansion band. I expected it to go “boing, boing,” but it was silent.
“Albert, do you have to keep doing that?” she would ask.
“Have to take it in to get regulated,” Dad replied. He had good reason for this.
You see, my late father worked for the railway, CN (or CNR as it was called back in the 50s and 60s). He was a timekeeper but he worked in the head office, then in downtown Toronto. As far as I know he wasn’t out on the tracks timing the trains. But who knows. The trains came in right by his office at Toronto’s Union Station.
He carried this penchant for time when the three of us rode the rails travelling in the summer. It was a free ride, and not just for Dad. Mother had the spouse’s free pass and until I turned 19 I had the child of the CN worker’s pass. Mom got unlimited free rides; I was limited to seven a year. But we never took more than three or four trips a year – and one would be not really a holiday. There were a lot of funerals in my family and a few weddings.
But that’s for another post. Today’s post is all about Dad and time. When we rode the rails, Dad made sure we arrived at Union Station early – sometimes two hours before train time. Did Dad think we would miss the train? No. He was just doing his job outside his job. No one missed his scrutiny – from the cab driver who drove us to Union Station – via a different route than Dad had dictated to who carried our luggage (not the red cap porter) to the trainman who collected our tickets once we had boarded the train. Dad’s favourite expression was “Typical CNR” which could be taken as either a bad review or I suppose even a small compliment. At any rate Dad and his watch kept close company.
But riding the rails had its fun, interesting and now looking back – nostalgic times. Nothing like the murder and other crimes that occur on the train to Hanover in my short story “Porcelain Doll” (Beyond theTripping Point, Blue Denim Press, 2012).
Consider the times we were travelling in – mid to late 1950s and early 1960s. Right when train travel in Ontario was still in its heyday – although not for much longer with the almighty automobile starting to take over. (Note: my parents didn’t drive so we had no car).
Our main annual trip was to visit the farm relatives on my mother’s side of the family. That took us to Mildmay Ontario (a few miles from Walkerton, the town that had the bad water scandal in 2000), and Lucknow, Ontario. Then we had to take three trains, which meant two changes. But what rides and what differences. The trains from Toronto to Guelph had diesel engines. The one from Guelph to Palmerston still had a steam engine whose noise used to scare me and my constant travelling companion, my doll Darlene. Guelph was also an interesting ride through. As that second train started out from Guelph, looking out the windows you could see the train was running on a track right in the middle of a street. It is still that setup today (although the trains are more modern) and it still makes me hold my breath when travelling through. The third train, with its short ride from Palmeston to Mildmay, was the most interesting. The “coach” we rode in was actually a sleeper car and Daddy would go into a short talk on the closed dark wooden bins above which came down and turned the area into a bedroom. I also remember the texture of the seats – they itched the back of my bare legs.
Dad has been long gone (he died of brain cancer, at 66. I was 16). However, I have inherited his penchant for time. I must get what is on my daily to-do list done that day and God help anyone or anything who interferes (Telemareters and long-winded acquaintances on the phone pay attention). But I also go after transit that is not on time, but not the CN, or VIA rail which has taken over the railway passenger service in most of Canada. No, it’s the city public transit, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) which more times than naught, messes up on its schedules. So I sometimes complain online about the incident. Couldn’t do that back in the day.
Guess I do have my father to thank for to be aware of time. And in line with that, on this upcoming Father’s Day I will honour my late father by thinking of him and toasting him – not with his favourite drink – beer, which I don’t really like – but wine. It’s the thought that counts. I’m sure Daddy would understand.Happy Father’s Day Daddy (wherever your spirit is), from your little railway brat.
How are you honouring your Dad this Father’s Day?
Only Child Writes
When I was a child I hid my anger under shyness and the belief that you don’t show your anger because others might retaliate and hurt you. Let’s face it I was a wimp when growing up. Perhaps it was due to my personal background or just the mores of the times (1950s and 1960s). More likely both.
Nowadays as a senior, I am not afraid to show my anger.
Let me clarify that. It is only verbal and written. I do not condone physical violence and I don’t condone verbal and written anger that is sexist and racist. There is never any excuse or reason for that.
But on a personal level I will tell someone off if they are blocking the subway doorway and I and others can’t get off or (and my big pet peeve), they are standing on the steps down to the subway platform and playing with their digital device. I also tell bus drivers off if they are really late arriving (although for this I am more likely to just not say “thank you” as I exit the bus). My usual exit is to thank bus drivers as I leave the bus. In the majority of cases bus drivers are just doing their job and some go out of their way to help passengers.
Not so the “clown” driving the Woodbine bus I took last evening. Not only was he late (the next bus was almost on his tail), but he sped away from the stop as soon as I used my Presto card to pay. As I struggled and lurched to get seated, I yelled, “It might be a good idea to let us sit down first.” Fortunately I landed in a seat without injury. And why was this bus driver in such a rush? He just had to make the green light half a block away down the street. He missed it and had to wait. Thank God or somebody for Karma.
On a wider scale I am also angered by government cuts in funds to libraries, education and healthcare, something we in Ontario are now experiencing that the populist you-know-what Doug Ford and his Conservative cronies who rule the roost are doing. I am also angered by the lax sentences for murderers and other perpetrators of heinous crimes under the Criminal Code in Canada and I covered that in a recent post. And if you harm a child, harm someone who is disabled, you get my wrath too.
Anger, I find can be redirected into action with the forming of community groups and the like to make changes, for example public transit riders groups (I know; I seem to be on this public transit kick). Even just writing this post is a good redirection or writing a short story.
I am not alone in being angry some of the time. See Facebook and Twitter and news clips. t seems to be a sign of the times and the number of people being angry over specific things is increasing according to a Gallop Poll from last year which went through 142 countries. See here for the poll info which also covers worry – and that does go hand in hand with anger. The age bracket for most angry was not us seniors, but it went up to age 49.
So what about us seniors?
That’s fodder for another post.
Only Child Writes
For those of us writing a memoir or who want to do so, sometimes we get stymied. Where do we start? What do we focus on? What happened in our life that really affected us?
Of course, we may have a specific area of our life we want to focus on. But our memories can play tricks on us. Our memories can “hide” a wealth of information about our past, the people in it and our emotions during those times – even if we think we know how we felt.
So, use pictures to trigger your memory and its whole enchilada. I don’t mean just old family and friend photos. But buildings – your school, the house you grew up in, streets, transit (cars and public), old new-story photos, old ad, even cemeteries.
And even the above which may not be your family photo, may not be a streetscape you are familiar with. You are thinking of the time and what is actually in the picture and transferring it (in your mind) to your story.
As some of you know, I teach various memoir writing workshops and courses at Toronto Public Library branches. And as the above hints at, the next one, on April 16, is called Using Your Pictures to Create Your Memoir. Most of my memoir writing workshops and courses have something about pictures, particularly those old family and friend photos. An interesting thing I keep discovering is that even if the picture is of my family or friends or me or the house I grew up in – it will always trigger some memory (not connected to me) in some of the participants.
“Oh, the picture of your dad reminded me of my dad.”
“The picture of your house reminded me of the house I grew up in.”
“That picture of your friends reminded me of something that happened with my sister/some of my friends.”
The pictures take on a generic form. And that can happen with transit and streetscapes. For example, a picture of a streetcar can bring up memories of you riding in a streetcar in the past, lead to something (good or bad) that happened to you while riding a streetcar. Who were you with? What was your relationship to them? And taking it beyond the streetcar ride, what else happened to you and them, especially if a sibling, parent, or close friend? How did you feel towards them? Does it bring up emotions – sad, happy, angry, etc.? And this can lead to more stories with them and maybe with the streetcars. Maybe your dad drove a streetcar or a bus. What were his stories about that?
You can see where a simple picture can lead you in your memoir writing.
Here are the details of my workshop. If you are in the Greater Toronto Area and are interested in taking it, there is still time to register. And it is free. Yes, I get paid by the library for teaching these workshops.
Using Pictures to Create Your Memoir
Tue Apr 16, 2019
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
S. Walter Stewart Library
In this memoir-writing workshop, author and editor Sharon A. Crawford shows how old photos, news stories, ads, streetscapes, and pictures etched in your mind can help create your memoir. Includes how to do picture research and research kick-started by pictures. Through discussion and writing exercises with feedback, you will get a start on your memoir. To register or for more information, please call 416-396-3975.
Meantime, look, really look, at the photo at the top of the post. And see where it leads you in your life.
And the picture below my signature.
Now that the reduce-the-Toronto-wards-number fiasco has been struck down in court, Premier Doug Ford can perhaps look elsewhere to do some damage. And yes, I know he plans to use the little-used not-withstanding clause. But Mr. Ford also wants to take over part of the TTC, er, his PC government does. That would be the subways. But Toronto can keep the bus, LRT and other streetcar service. See story here.
Mr. Ford might do well to look at the history of the TTC – when it was a jumble of privately run companies and when the Toronto Transit Commission began taking it all over. Mr. Ford can start by going here for a little history lesson. Even better read the Mike Filey book mentioned in the article – The TTC Story: The First Seventy-five Years (Dundurn Press, 1996). Can’t find it online or in a bricks and mortars store? Toronto Public library has copies. And if Mr. Ford doesn’t have a library card, he can get one easily – and it’s free. That should suit him.
I am a life-long TTC rider and even though I complain loudly about the crowding, the stoppages for various reasons, dividing it up with the PCs taking over the subways and the TTC keeping the rest will create chaos. Remember the old saying about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?
When I was a child (back in the grey ages) my mom, dad and I travelled by TTC to everywhere. We had no car and my parents couldn’t drive anyway. I enjoyed the subway rides on Yonge St. to downtown to shop at department store no longer around (but that’s fodder for another post) – this latter mainly with Mom. But Mom, Dad and I used to take the subway to Eglinton and then on buses afterwards to visit family and friends. When I started work ,the first phase of Line 2 along Bloor and Danforth had started running. And yes, it was crowded then too (albeit not as bad as today). When the Yonge line was first extended to York Mills I was living in North York and commuting to work at Bloor and Yonge from Sheppard and Don Mills. This required an extra bus to York Mills. So I was glad when the subway line got extended to Finch. And since then, there have been more extensions and something called an LRT now being built along Eglinton.
Mr. Ford is saying that the TTC will still operate the subway system and can keep all revenues generated. How generous. If Mr. Ford wants to get his hands into the TTC, maybe he should concentrate on the province giving more funds to the TTC so it doesn’t need to use so much of the fare revenue to cover costs for maintaining and building new subway lines, etc.
Emphasis on the word “public”. I am part of this public. I pay for my TTC pass (soon to be a Presto card) and pay my municipal taxes – some of which go to pay some of the TTC expenses no doubt, as one of my Facebook pals pointed out. But we (the public) have our rights.
And for the record I did not vote for the PCs in the election this year. And the NDP I voted for in my riding got in.
Many people speculate that Mr. Ford is doing all this to Toronto in retaliation for Toronto voting mostly NDP in the election. Whether that is true or not, the fact that Toronto voted NDP says something about our wishes.
But hey, democracy seems to be turning into a bad word. Just look at south of the border.
Comments, please. And here’s the link to my Facebook page. Scroll down a bit to see some comments on this TTC ruckus.
Only Child Writes
I have posted previously on the inconsiderateness of public transit riders, particularly on Toronto’s TTC. Since then I have observed more bad uncivilized behaviour and I’m not even referring to anything violent. So instead of boring you with my New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would list some of these public transit mis-behaviours where the perpetrators need to make resolutions to change.
But before I do, I would like to give kudos and my gratitude to the baby buggy brigade – at least 85 per cent who have really smartened up since my last post on this. Mothers and fathers with baby buggies on buses, streetcars and subways are really trying hard not to take up too much space. And I try to do my part for those who take an especially considerate approach. I, in turn, approach them and thank them.
Now, here are the situations on public transit requiring those inconsiderate public transit users to consider trying to change this year.
1. Blocking the way in and out – on buses standing at the front, texting or swinging between poles (as I caught one young woman doing and as the drive said nothing to her, I did. From her response, she clearly was on some drug), with their bags taking up even more room. And they aren’t even getting off at the next stop and the bus isn’t even crowded. People have difficulty passing by them to get on or off. Ditto on subways when not crowded in rush hour – people standing in the doorways and texting while there are clear signs by the doors or on the doors “do not block doorways.” My solution is to first make sure they aren’t getting off at my stop and as I go by I tell them they are blocking the doorway or way out.
2. Standing at the top of or bottom of or actually on steps in subway stations and texting. Not only is that inconvenient for others going up and down the stairs, especially for us oldsters who have to hang onto the railing, it could prove hazardous for the person texting. In rush hour, crowds hurrying up and down stairs may not realize someone is standing in the way and texting. Could be a nasty accident. Solution: get out of the way. Do your texting on the subway platform (most subway stations now have wi fi) or on the level above the stairs.
3. Young healthy people hogging the blue seats which are meant for seniors, anyone who is disabled, and parents with kids. I will give credit to most who do move when someone with a cane gets on the bus or subway and there are a few kind souls (men and women) who offer me a seat because I am a senior.
4. People who hog extra seats for their bags of groceries, suitcases and even their purses. Even more insulting is when they do this and just sit there texting, oblivious to those who are left standing.
5. People who are too lazy to move to the window seat – whether they put bags or not on the seat beside them, so anyone who wants to sit down has to climb over their big feet, etc.
All who are guilty of any of the above (and other inconsiderate behaviour), take note and try to change your ways. Remember it is public transit, not private transit. If you want to take over the seats and space, use Uber or a regular cab. or hire a limo.
And transit drivers aren’t all good guys and gals, either. Without going into a long list here are some driver issues that need changing in 2018: those drivers who find it more important to make the light before it changes then pick up passengers just arrived at the stop (probably because they had to cross at that light), keep to your schedule no later or earlier than five minutes for the scheduled stop time – I’m fed up with two buses – same number and same route – one minute apart instead of the 10 to 12 minutes they are supposed to be.
And one more thing, transit drivers If a passebner is doing one of the above five – at least on a bus or streetcar- please set them straight. It should really not be up to the passengers to do your job.
And that’s it. Feel free to post this on your blog or wherever.
And any comments here are welcome, especially if you have stories to tell about bad actions of transit riders and drivers.
Only Child Writes
Earlier this summer I was walking on the sidewalk across the Woodbine Bridge. Traffic going by on the road was noisy and my left ear doesn’t hear as well as it used to. I thought I heard a faint bell but wasn’t sure. Then someone spoke from behind. A made adult cyclist was behind me and he demanded to pass by me. I told him I don’t hear too well, but I was also ticked off at his sense of entitlement – illegal as it turns out. Try as I might I could not convince him that riding on the sidewalk is illegal in Ontario. He kept saying it was and rode off.
So many things I could have said to him if my mind wasn’t on hold from shock. Besides it being illegal, that is. I could and should have told him the kicker – i.e., why is the City of Toronto adding bicycle lanes on the road and not the sidewalk if it isn’t illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk? The other point is there is a notice on this sidewalk at the end to “walk your bikes.”
When I arrived at my destination – Shoppers Drug Mart – I saw a police cruiser in the parking lot and stopped them to just verify that is is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk. In my upset I was even wondering if I had it right.
I did. After one of the officers verified I meant an adult on a bike, he said it is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk but it is hard to catch those who break the law here.
As a former cyclist back when I was a kid and in my mid-twenties, I never rode on the sidewalk. Just looking at the sidewalk in where I grew up in Toronto made me worry I wouldn’t even be abler to keep the bike on the sidewalk. My dad taught me to ride my bike, albeit a bit late (I was nine and a half) but he always had me ride on the road in our neighbourhood – not busy with traffic right there.
My favourite place to ride a bike was on country roads – the gravel ones where the only vehicles you might encounter were the occasional car or tractor. I would ride with my cousins near their farm and it would depend on who I rode with which bicycle I used. If I rode with the girls, I borrowed one of the guys bikes – and vice-versa.
In the mid-70s, when my then husband and I moved to Aurora, Ontario, we used to ride our bikes all around Aurora – on the road and I actually liked riding on the busy road in the lane by the sidewalk. What I hated was having to wait to make a left turn – and this wasn’t even on the busy roads. Trying to balance on the bike while waiting wasn’t exactly my favourite position.
After our son was born, I lost interest in bicycle riding.
But not the law. So adult cyclists who ride their bikes on the sidewalk, look out if you are near me. Now if I can find my whistle I might bring that along and blow that at these cyclists who think they are entitled to ride wherever they please. It isn’t safe. Many seniors have much worse hearing than me and may not be able to walk as well as I usually can.
And what about mothers pushing baby carriages (despite my opinions on them blocking the aisle on buses) and worse, young kids with our without a parent walking along the sidewalk and some jerk adult on a bike comes up behind them and scares them ringing the bike bell or if no bell, using his voice (and the men are more likely to ride the sidewalks than the women – at least what I’ve seen so far). Or no warning and…
Comments on this please.
Only Child Writes