I did something really cool this weekend. I got to ride a vintage subway, courtesy of The New York Transit Museum’s “Nostalgia Rides” program.
My dad and I took advantage of the last trip of the season, which departed from the lower level of the museum (in downtown Brooklyn) and took us out to Rockaway Park.
We rode in a train from 1939 and it was awesome. If you read my blog you know what a fan I am of pretty much anything vintage, so the opportunity to pretend (even for an hour) that I had traveled back in time was such a treat.
As a life-long New Yorker I was quite familiar with subway travel. But there was something special about riding this train. All of the lovely details that have disappeared over time (replaced with more durable – and sterile – substitutes) were there to see, feel, admire:
Padded ceiling fans and incandescent light bulbs
And the ads!!
There was no air conditioning of course, so the windows were wide open. When the subway emerged from underground – and especially when we crossed Jamaica Bay – I became totally aware of my surroundings. The smell of the water, the sound of the seagulls – things we never hear from our sealed-up modes of transportation – became a part of the whole experience.
And I started thinking about how canned and artificial our environment has become. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my beloved central A/C for anything. But I truly enjoyed this glimpse of what life must have been like 70 years ago (although my mom recalled how the rattan would often start to come apart, invariably causing a run in her nylons. That would have made me nuts. That, and wearing nylons in August).
And what does one do at the end of a vintage train ride?
Get a fish taco, of course.
It was fun having my dad with me, as he actually DID ride these trains. And we chatted about the “advantages” of modern living, versus a time when things were less convenient, but certainly simpler.
How about you? Is there anything you’d trade from today for the more simple “old fashioned” version? Do you think we sometimes sacrifice something along the way in the name of progress?