Friday, November 14, 2008

Open and shut cases on the F train

Ok, so I have been riding the F-train
from Church and McDonald Avenue
into Manhattan on a daily basis
since September 1972.
That’s over thirty-six years of
railway fun folks. And you know what, it’s still not over.
Because I’m only 50, and not going to be
retiring any time soon.

So what does 36 years on the F-train do for someone?
Well it certainly gives you a lot of stories to tell, that’s for sure.

Let me start by telling you about all the stations along the F line that used to be practically void of any human life.

When the train stopped at these stations the conductor opened the doors and then shut them not even a second later. Thus my description of an “open and shut case” with the “case” being the train doors of the F.

The year is 1972.
So lets start our trip at Church Avenue
on the F and make our way into the city.

• Church Avenue- This station was always crowded, even years ago.

• Fort Hamilton Parkway- Open and shut those doors, because no ones getting on here. This station is totally empty except for some kids tagging the walls, and some drunk that fell asleep after a long night at the Terrace Bar on East 4th and Greenwood Avenue.

• 15th street Prospect Park- Another open and shut case. And don’t you even think about going above ground, because you’ll probably get whacked in the face by some gang walking with chains. I used to be scared to death when my hockey coach Mr. McCourt held weekly meetings at his house over by Bartell Prichard Square.

• 7th Avenue- Only the brave pioneers who moved into Park Slope dared to be here. Keep it open and let them get on before they get mugged.

• 4th Avenue- Signs of human life again, keep them open conductor.

• Smith and Ninth Street- Totally deserted except for a couple of dead bodies. Please close the doors before someone accuses me of killing them!

• Carol Street- “Bada Bing” wasn’t even invented yet, and those guys never took the train anyway. No they drove Caddies instead. Everyone who got on at Carol street must have been “connected” back then. And we’re not talking about a freaking Verizon network either.

• Bergen Street- Hello is anyone home??? “Bada Bing” station number two, with a lot of Brooklyn Tech students ready to get mugged before school.

• Jay Street- Hello Mays, Korvettes and A&S, conductor keep them open.

• York Street- Are you kidding? Why does the train even stop here? I have never seen a human on this platform in my life.

OK, so that’s our trip through Brooklyn.
Now Manhattan was also different too back then.

Let me just tell you about the stations that were
also void of human life back in 1972.

• East Broadway
• Second Avenue
• 23rd street

Some exciting things that happened on the F in the past 36 years.

Ok, one time I was riding the F and the doors opened while the train roaring between Church and Fort Hamilton Parkway. Now I mean totally open for about ten seconds with nothing between you and the dirty tunnel walls. That was about 1975 and it was one those really old trains that you now see at the transit museum.

Another time some guy got stuck in the doors of the train after he got on at Fort Hamilton. With the train going full speed I helped pull him out before it made it into the tunnel. Once again one of those old trains that had a mind of its own.

The time my grandmother fell on the tracks at Church Avenue with the train lights in sight up by Ditmas Avenue. If it wasn’t for some “angel” who told the token booth clerk, my grandmother would have been killed for sure.

The time some guy dropped his handgun on the floor of the train while he was standing next to me. He even apologized too.

The time my friend Steve McNally laid down a bunch of pennies on the rails at Church Avenue and the train squashed them flat. Who needs that machine at the New York Aquarium when you got the F train?

The time I fell asleep and woke up at Coney Island, I wasn’t even drunk and ended up missing my dentist appointment at doctor Sheps on East 3rd street.

The time I lost my shoe between the train and the platform at Church Avenue. I must have been about five years old and still have the picture of me sitting on Santa’s lap form Macys to prove it.

Yes there was the guy that was exposing himself.
The weirdo masturbating during rush hour, along
with thousands of encounters with the homeless.

It’s just been one “long strange trip”
that never seems to end.

Ron Lopez


Cousin Pete said...

Could share tons of stories, but here are a few quickies.
- standing outside a deli on McDonald and Ave. F alongside the el after a hockey game, and one of the old green/black "coal car" F trains comes roaring overhead when a HUGE cast-iron based straw seat comes flying out from between cars and nearly squashes Paul McNally.
- scaring everyone half to death when my glasses fell on the tracks at Jay Street and I climbed down to get them with the sounds of the on-coming train audible. (I climbed out in plenty of time, but really dirty).
- The time that the Spinner's wacky Irish Setter got on the F at Church and took it to 7th Avenue and got off. Somebody read his tag and got him back to his owners before the MTA nailed him for jumping the turnstiles.
- The time Steve McNally jumped the turnstile on our way to Shea and the cops nailed ME in stead (and I paid my fare). Steve did the right thing and came forward - the cop let him slide because both he and the cop were Irish...I wasn't going to be so lucky.

Just a few memories...

Anonymous said...

Hey, I used to get on at Ft. Hamilton station, yes I was one of those Brooklyn Tech guy scared shitless most days. I can tell you that I rode home with the next Mayor of N.Y.C. Anthony Weiner, he got off at 7th Ave. He was just like screech from saved by the bell, I wonder where he lives these days? Next stop City Hall! B.t.w., if you see a disgruntled Transit worker on the F its probably my brother, hes been riding it for 37 years too, but he gets the added bonus of working on it for 28 of em, yea he's ready to snap! Will

Anonymous said...

I remember the screeching of the train wheels as the train pulled out of Bergen street.