Manhattan Memories [of the Los Angeles Pacific]
Los Angeles Pacific, Interurban Special No. 18, 1955, edited by Ira L. Swett
by George L. Allen, Sr
In those early days [when Mr. Allen was a boy, 1903-1910], the LAP [Los Angeles Pacific] Green Cars [these being before the affordable Ford Model-T and the streets were paved] were our only practicable connection with the outer world. Passenger-carrying was their main function but express cars came regularly with life’s necessities; one of my uncles was an executive [with] a brewery in San Francisco and well do I recall [a periodic meeting of] an express car [and] receiving a barrel of beer, and rolling the barrel up the hill to our home – telling old ladies that it contained soda pop!
The [South Bay] line down the coast to Redondo Beach was originally narrow gauge. About 1907, LAP decided to standard gauge it. [The re-gauging process was very fast]. I remember riding on Saturday on a narrow gauge, [and by] the next Monday morning everybody was riding standard gauge cars. [With this upgrade came larger cars]. [The South Bay line] usually used the 200 car, except on the weekends and holidays when the big 700s were used – and then the press was so terrific that three-car trains were run on frequent schedules – and with commonplace standing loads!
[On the weekends], we kids would frequently go to Redondo Beach [on the Green Cars] and we learned early how to ride [them for] free! [Coming back to the north,] the cars leaving Redondo were so crowded that the conductor would necessarily have to make his way through slowly. He started at the front end, so we rode the back platform. By the time we got close to home we would pretty well know if he would get to us or not. When it appeared that he would be upon us momentarily, we would drop off [at 1st Street or 5th Street, and sometimes all the way to 8th Street].