Some of my fondest memories as a new Memphian and a new mom were made aboard a Memphis trolley. Prior to its repurposing for the police station which is now there, I’d park in the parking lot behind MATA’s Main Street Terminal and, with my young son, walk through the building to the trolley stop directly in front of it. While we waited for the trolley, he would dance about the platform anxiously looking ahead for its arrival and I conversed with fellow waiting passengers whose stories of where they’d come from and where they were going were so rich and full and diverse. I received parenting advice from grandmothers on their way home from work and exchanged “what really to expect in the toddler years” stories with mothers taking their sons on an outing in between treatments at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Even in the midst of their excruciatingly painful crisis these moms would assure me that everything would be ok. They were right.
We rode with excited tourists who thought, just as I did, that watching the sun set over the Mississippi River was even more impressive during a ride on the Riverfront Loop Trolley. We also rode with construction workers and FedEx Hub employees who, after long shifts at work, just wanted to get home but engaged in pleasant conversations with us nonetheless. During some of our quiet moments, we leaned our heads against the windows and looked out over the river: this is where exhaustion, excitement, contemplation, and contentment all manifested themselves in the same way.
Our trolley drivers got to know us by face; my son they quickly remembered by name. We stopped for impromptu dinners at the now-closed Spaghetti Warehouse because a trolley stop was located directly in front of it. On one particularly beautiful morning (bright sun but sans the stifling heat!) we rode the Riverfront Loop three times before hopping off at the Central Station stop and walking over to the Memphis Farmers Market. It goes almost without saying that South Main’s Trolley Night (held the last Friday of every month) became one of our favorite ways to end the week and start the weekend.
With each ride I felt (maybe oddly so) as though I’d made at least one new friend- even if we never saw one another again. Over the past few years I have missed the new traditions we’d established through our trolley rides: watching the sunsets, eating spaghetti, strolling through the Central Station Pavilion on Saturday morning. But I missed my trolley friends even more. For me, Memphis trolleys became more than just a mode of transportation; they were vessels filled anew every day with strangers and stories that have made me laugh, think, and learn. I am so glad they’re back!
The Main Street Trolley began running again on April 30. Now through May 14 all trolley rides are FREE! After May 14, the fare will be $1 per ride.
For more information and continued updates on the trolleys, visit: http://www.matatransit.com/services/trolleys
For more information on Trolley Night, visit:
This photo is courtesy of Creation Studios' Memphis Collection. View it here: http://www.creationmemphis.com/memphis-1/
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