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Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston subway is the oldest in the United states. It is officially called the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), but is known locally as "The T".

The subway has been immortalized in song and fiction. The most famous publicity is the Kingston Trio Song "MTA" which tells of the misfortune of a man named Charlie who, according to the song, Music maestro, please!,  was stuck on a train due to a fare increase.

M.T.A. Lyrics
From The Kingston Trio at Large 
Date: 07/01/1959 

Jacqueline Steiner/Bess Hawes

These are the times that try men's souls. In the course of our nation's history, the people of Boston have rallied bravely whenever the rights of men have been threatened. Today, a new crisis has arisen. The Metropolitan Transit Authority, better known as the M.T.A., is attempting to levy a burdensome tax on the population in the form of a subway fare increase. Citizens, hear me out! This could happen to you!

(Eight bar guitar, banjo introduction)

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.

     Well, did he ever return? No, he never returned and 
     his fate is still unknown. 
     (What a pity! Poor ole Charlie. Shame and scandal. 
     He may ride forever. Just like Paul Revere.)
     He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston. 
     He's the man who never returned.

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.
Now, all night long Charlie rides through the station, 
crying, "What will become of me?!!
How can I afford to see my sister in Chelsea 
or my cousin in Roxbury?"
Charlie's wife goes down to the Sculley Square Station 
every day at quarter past two,
And through the open window she hands Charlie a sandwich 
as the train comes rumblin' through.
Now, you citizens of Boston, don't you think it's a scandal 
how the people have to pay and pay?
Fight the fare increase! Vote for George O'Brien! 
Get poor Charlie off the M. T. A.
He's the man who never returned. 
He's the man who never returned. 
  Et tu Charlie?


Lifecast@aol.com has advised that the last line is a play on Shakespeare's Julius Caesar-"Et tu Brutus:"

courtesy of http://www.maj.org/p2005/ThisLand_mta.html


Lyrics and music by J.Steiner and B.Howes

(P) 1959 Atlantic Music Co. B.M.I.

All Rights Reserved

The subway was also featured in a Science Fiction Story. "A Subway Named Möbius " which deals with a lost train when the system became a Möbius  Strip.  The site  http://scifipedia.scifi.com/index.php/A_Subway_Named_Mobius has this information:


After the completion of a new addition to a subway system, making the system completely closed, one of the subways disappears, with more than 300 passengers on board. A mathematician named Tupelo says that because the system is closed and interconnected, the subway must still be there, but in the 4th dimension. An investigation turns up nothing. Months later, Tupelo boards a subway car, and doesn’t notice for several minutes that the newspapers the passengers are reading are months old. Car 86, the one that had been missing, has returned, and the passengers have no idea that any extra time has elapsed.

Additional Notes

This story has been reprinted in, among other places, Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 12 (1950). The author of this story was a professor of Mathematics at Harvard, and Asimov believes that this may have been his only science fiction story.


[A} Möbius Strip, [is a ]surface that can be formed by taking a long, rectangular strip of paper, rotating the ends 180° with respect to one another, and joining the ends together to form a loop. The Möbius strip is a two-dimensional surface that has only one side. This can be demonstrated by drawing a line down the middle of the loop; the line will eventually end up where it began. Another curious property is that if the Möbius strip is cut along the line down the middle of the loop, it will become a single two-sided loop, instead of falling apart into two loops. The Möbius strip is named after the German mathematician August Ferdinand Möbius, who was a pioneer in topology in the 1800s.

Möbius Strip
A Möbius strip is three-dimensional, but it only has one side. If you try to trace a line down just the inside or just the outside of the loop, you will find that the line passes over all of the loop before coming back to the starting point. This shows that the loop has only one side.



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