True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 148
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148 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
either forgotten or ignored. Things today are so vastly better
and superior in every way that instead of pining for the good
old times one actually wonders how one could have put up with
all the discomforts and inconveniences of former days.
I remember when the first street car service was established
in Houston and what a great thing it was considered. There
was one little car drawn by a diminutive mule, that had a sleigh
bell attached to its neck to let people know he was coming.
There were no conductors, the passenger going up to the front
of the car and depositing his fare in a box, under the eye of the
driver. No one could get into that box except the man at headquarters,
for it was locked with a padlock and only he had a
key. At fixed hours he would take out the fares deposited in
the box and then lock it again. The service was just barely
better than walking, though frequently not so expeditious, for
from time to time the car would Jump the track and it would
take some time for the driver and passengers to get it on again..
When a wreck occurred it was expected that every male passenger
would get out and work rike a section hand to help matters
along. The cars were so small and so light that the driver felt
safe against long delays if he had two or three men among his
Now, about the time those street cars made their appearance
in Houston there was a kind of anti-corporation feeling all over
the state that caused the street car drivers and the conductors
of the big railroads to make predatory war on the various
companies they served. "Knocking down" became one of the
fine arts and the company that got a fair proportion of its
passenger earnings at the end of the year considered itself fortunate.
This is no joke; it is an actual fact, and the cause for
it was a mistake that the railroads made in assuming that
every one of its conductors was a thief and setting spies to
watch them. The conductors resented that action on the part
of the railroads and went in to get the benefits of being dishonest
since the roads assumed them to be so. Honest men
were classed as rascals by the roads and they became rascals.
There were no gates, ticket punching or things of that kind
in those days. If there was the least trouble about the matter
tde passenger did not go to the ticket office at all, but got on
the train and paid the conductor. But the whole thing came
to an abrupt termination through the mistake of a green hand
who was put on a run in place of a regular conductor who had
been taken suddenly ill Just as his train was about to pull out.
That was on the northern division of one of the big roads running
out of Houston. The conductors on that division had "gotten
together" and agreed on what proportion of the fares they would
give to the railroad when their run was over and they made
When the regular conductor was taken sick he did not hav
time to instruct his subordinate, who was a baggagemater
from the south division, or to warn others, so the baggagemter
Here’s what’s next.
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Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/148/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .