1949 | Boston

Fare Hike

Trapped in the Boston subway.

Let me tell you the story of a man named Charlie: 
On a dark and fateful day
He put ten cents in his pocket and he kissed his loving family 
And he went to ride the MTA.

Did he ever return? No, he never returned, 
And his fate is still unlearned.
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
Then he changed for Jamaica Plain. 
When he got there the conductor told him, “One more nickel!” 
Charlie couldn’t get off that train.

As his train rolled on through Greater Boston,
Charlie looked around and sighed,
“Well, I’m sore and disgusted and I’m absolutely busted
I guess this is my last long ride.”

Now all night long Charlie rides through the tunnel
Saying, “What will become of me? 
And how can I afford to see my sister in Chelsea 
Or my brother in Roxbury?”

Charlie’s wife goes down to the Scollay Square station 
Every day at a quarter past two, 
And through the open window she hands Charlie a sandwich 
As his train comes rumbling through.

Now, citizens of Boston, don’t you think it is a scandal
That the people have to pay and pay?
Vote for Walter A. O’Brien and fight the fare increase.
Get poor Charlie off that MTA!

© 1956 by Atlantic Music Corp. Used with permission of Atlantic Music Corp.


About This Text

Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes, “MTA.” While living in Boston, the two folksingers were asked to write campaign songs for the Progressive Party mayoral candidate, Walter A. O’Brien. Steiner and Hawes borrowed the tunes from older songs, “The Ship That Never Returned” and “Wreck of the Old 97.”