Page 31 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. CraneThe SaboteursIt was during the Second War War that a lot of our young lives took on the activities of re-enacting what the America Army was doing as they fought across Europe and the Pacific Islands. As teenagers, we were honing our skills in preparation for the day that we too would be drafted into the Army where so many of our own relatives and friends and neighbors were now serving. The only problem was that it wasn’t any foreign army that we practiced upon, but our own fellow Americans. Most of our activities took place during those lazy, hazy days of Summer when boredom set in. There was an area of the Atlantic where the German U-boats were such a threat to ocean going vessels that the seaman gave it a name and they called it “Suicide Alley.”Running East and West and south of our neighborhood were a set of streetcar tracks where the old yellow and red trolley cars ran back and forth from the Lakefront to the West side. They were operated by a single motorman who collected the fares, 4 cents for anyone under 12 years of age, and issued transfers as well as drove the car. They had enough to keep themselves busy and it provided time for anyone to enact their mischief. As these motorman approached our area, I am sure that they must have thought that they were approaching “Suicide Alley” and were on heightened alert. The passengers were of secondary thought as the primary target was the streetcar and the delay in its operation not to mention the strain that it placed upon the motorman. If things were right, I would venture to say that they should have been awarded hazardous duty pay.The most obvious trick was to pull down on the cable that kept the tension on the wheel that connected to the overhead live wire. This usually occurred when the motorman stopped to let off passengers at the various stops or to load them on. It was during this interim that the perpetrator would strike by pulling down on the cable and disconnecting the wheel from the wire. This meant that the motorman would have to get out and reconnect the pulley. One time while he was doing this, one daring bunch of kids actually jumped on and stole the trolley car. The poor motorman had to walk about a half mile in order to retrieve it.As the trolley approached the viaduct under the railroad tracks further East, it would go down the tracks and then back up. Since the wheels were steel as well as the tracks, some enterprising saboteurs greased the tracks with Axle grease and the wheels just sat there and spun. How it ever got it out, I do not know.31

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