Building Blocks (Philosophical Questions…)

The ‘sparks’ of life that can ignite one’s writing mind.


A perplexing philosophical question asked by a 60+ gent after only one beer: “Did Charlie ever return from the MTA?”

And the answer is:

Well, let me tell you of the story

of a man named Charley

on a tragic and fateful day.

He put ten cents in his pocket,

kissed his wife and family,

went to ride on the M. T. A.


Charlie handed in his dime at the Kendall Square Station

and he changed for Jamaica Plain.

When he got there the conductor told him,

“One more nickel.”

Charlie couldn’t get off of that train.

Did he ever return?

No he never returned

And his fate is still unlearn’d

He may ride forever’

neath the streets of Boston

He’s the man who never returned.

The song’s lyrics tell of Charlie, a man who gets aboard the Boston’s subway system, then known as the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).  Charlie can’t get off the subway as he didn’t bring enough money for the “exit fares” that had just been established to collect an increased fare without upgrading existing fare collection equipment.  Considering the fair price is now $2 – $2.50, it is doubtful that finding five cents will help.  At least you can now buy a Charlie card in his honor.  The song, based on a much older versions, was originally recorded as a mayoral campaign song for Progressive Party candidate Walter A. O’Brien.  A version of the song with the candidate’s name changed became a 1959 hit when recorded and released by the Kingston Trio.


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