Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Streetcar Named Wylie

Wylie Herbert Smith, my great grandfather, was born in New Brunswick on this day, September 12th, in 1874.  After some years as a Baptist minister, he worked as an electric streetcar conductor in Portland, Maine.1  This piece from the Portland Press Herald, from an April issue in the 1930’s, shows him with another conductor, enjoying a smile for the camera.

“Meeting The Cameraman
Suppose They Do?

The postman who went for a walk on his day off and the busman who went for a ride have had their praises sung by jokers long enough. There is a question to be asked. Do electric car operators take a car ride on their day of rest?
If they do, they have a chance to sit back and enjoy the route which they travel so many time aday (sic). They have a chance to sit back and enjoy nature, read the advertisements and size up the passengers. They know it is to wait for a car. And if they are in a hurry they know what it means to have to stop at every car-stop and take in or let off passengers.
Oh yes, they do all that. For all cars are alike, and every commuter or joy-rider knows it. But while they wait, the two here pictured, seem to find enough to amuse themselves. It’s all a part of the game though, so it might as well be taken good-naturedly.
As a little divertisement (sic) today, the two shown here will find that two tickets have been set aside for each of them at Keith’s2 today. Present this page at the box office for tickets to either performance.”

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1Electric street cars operated in Portland from 1892 to 1941.
2Keith’s Theater was located Congress and Preble Streets in Portland. Small-scale live performances and vaudeville acts were performed there. In 1939 its name changed to the Civic Theater.

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