Monday, December 19, 2005

A Man Named Charlie

One of my favourite songs we used to sing in primary school was the Charlie song (my favourite song was the Beep Beep song which ended with winding down the car window and shouting "Hey Buddy How Do You Get This Car Out of Second Gear"). It was a song about a man who went to ride on Boston's MTA system and paid his ten cents to get on the train, but when he tried to get off they asked for another nickel, and he didn't have it so he had to stay on the train. "And did he ever return, oh no he never returned, and his fate is still unlearned (what a pity), he may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston, he's the man who never returned."

It was a protest song, the last verse told people to: "Fight Fare Increases, Vote for Someone O'Something, Get Charlie off the MTA." What I didn't know at the time (because I was 9) was that Someone O'Something (I think it was Walter O'Brien - but I'm not sure), was a candidate for the Progressive Party, which was redbaited, and possibly an actual Communist Party Front Group. There's more than you ever wanted to know about the song here.

This is all an introduction to the fact that New York's MTA drivers is going on strike, which is pretty exciting.


  1. Being from NJ, we didn't care much about the MTA, but we did sing a charlie/train related song! Perhaps it can be used to resolve the strike?

    Once upon a time there was an engineer
    Choo Choo Charlie was his name, we hear.
    He had an engine and he sure had fun.
    He used Good & Plenty candy to make his train run.
    Charlie says "Love my Good and Plenty!"
    Charlie says "Really rings my bell!"
    Charlie says "Love my Good and Plenty!"
    Don't know any other candy that I love so well!

    Wait.... capitalism is bad?!?! What's up with that?

  2. Anonymous1:44 pm

    This refers to the Boston transportation system. The song is called "Charlie on the MTA". The Boston subway used to be called "MTA" up until the 1970s.