The streetcar he desires

For months Leo has wanted to ride a particular streetcar he has seen in the shed at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum.
The SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority) streetcar reminds him of a streamliner or an Amtrak train. Somehow it never happened to be running when we visited the museum, and on our trip there this weekend, a conductor told us yet again that it wouldn’t be running that day.
That was fine with us. There are always other streetcars to ride and questions to ask and memories to make together. But we went to visit the streetcar in the shed anyway.
Even inside the shed, the streetcar looked so shiny—and fast. Maybe one day we’d get to ride it.
“I think it’s as fast as a bullet train,” said Leo, thinking of the high-speed bullet trains he wants to ride in China and Japan.
Later as we were walking through the museum, I stopped at the ticket counter to ask whether we could call ahead one day to see whether the SEPTA car would be running. And the conductor sitting there said, “We could run that today.”
Suddenly I felt guilty. I hadn’t meant to suggest that they should bring it out just for us.
“Oh, no!” I said. “I don’t want you to go to any trouble.”
But the conductor assured me that they would give us a ride on the streetcar later that afternoon.
“Sometimes it’s nice to have a reason to bring it out,” he said.
Aha, I thought. Maybe Leo’s not the only one who loves that car.
When they brought the SEPTA streetcar out, we were ready.
Leo and Daniel climbed aboard and found seats for us together. It wasn’t very hard. There were only three other people on the car.
As we rode, Leo marveled at how the streetcar sped down the track.
He and his brother rang the bell for a stop a few too many times.
Leo even raised his hand to ask the conductor a question.
The streetcar wasn’t as fast as a high-speed bullet train, but we have to save something for that heritage trip to China. Still, for our 5 ½-year-old, that ride was a dream come true.
And I think the conductor knew how grateful we were.
“I heard you thank the conductor,” I told Leo. At one point, in fact, the boys were running after the conductor calling out, “Thank you!”
“Yes,” Leo said. “I said thank you five times.”
I just hope our conductor saw the look in Leo’s eyes as we sped along the track.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.