Support provided by:
Not just a Storybook
28 July 2009
Category: Viewer Mailbag
Friends, your story about the house with what appeared to be a railroad car in the basement brought back a warm memory from childhood.
One of my favorite books was The Trolley Car Family by Eleanor Clymer. Published in 1947, this book tells the story of a trolley car driver whose job is phased out when the town switches to buses. He asks the company to give him his old trolley car, and tows it to the end of the line out in the countryside. There he and his family set up housekeeping, and the fun begins.
I am delighted to find out that this beloved story finds its roots in what was actually happening at the time the book was written. An actual "trolley car family" was the first to inhabit the house you profiled in your story.
An online search turns up a citation for an article in the journal Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture entitled "The Machine in the Garden:The Trolley Cottage as Romantic Artifact" by William B. Rhoads. The first page of the article points out that turning trolley cars into dwellings was common. I'm interested to know that there really were "trolley car families."
Thanks for a good program.
Mary T. Rocky Mount, NC
This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion; a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don’t conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.
Anyone wishing to submit an artifact for investigation should do so through Submit a Story.