2004-06-18 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

From The Rockaway Museum
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
The Green Bus Line of Yesteryear

Historical Views
of the Rockaways
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
The Green Bus Line of Yesteryear

Those of us old enough will remember riding on this type of Green Line Bus, which remained in service for a little more than a decade, until newer buses came in the early 1940’s. Those old buggies had a powerful gasoline engine and a manual stick transmission. High gear was only reached during a long run between stops, and the driver got a workout on the clutch and stick and brake, while servicing a string of short runs between stops.

At each stop, the driver had to open the door manually with a rod and handle from the driver’s right – to the door! The nickel fare was then collected from the riders before the bus moved. The conveyance was quite noisy and jerked forward due to the clutch operation, and being that the roads were often lousy, so was the ride, but the seats were comfortable, and made up for that.

This particular bus is in Far Rockaway, and the sign in the window reads Bayswater, which once had bus service from there down to the shore at Beach 19 Street.

I can still close my eyes and think back to the sounds of this type of bus. When the driver started out it was RRrrr! RRrrr! Until the brakes squealed loudly for the top…and the clatch/wam/slam and clunk of the door opening and closing. Early buses did not have destination signs, so the driver told you before you got on at the door. The men who drove the buses were always in uniform, courteous, and on a first name basis with some steady riders. Cowboy riders were scolded by the passengers – especially by mothers with young children.

I fondly remember old Charlie on the run to New Lots Avenue over Cross Bay Boulevard. He always stopped at the end of Broad Channel, got off the bus with a paper bag, whistled out, and fed all the dogs that came out of the trees and grass. When a passenger complained, which was rare, Charlie was polite and said, "please don’t take my bus anymore."

If you read his face, he was saying that, "I should throw you to the dogs."

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