Somebody has been struck, probably at 3:19 a.m., with the idea of running streetcars in this city, and the federal government, which never seems to run out of money for truly needy projects, will underwrite a sort of feasibility study.
As I get it, and insofar as there is anything to get, the trolleys would run from Georgetown to Dupont Circle, and the trolleys would be self-supporting, not costing taxpayers anything.
Already, of course, there are city buses running in Georgetown, and while they probably are as infuriating there as elsewhere in the capital, it is hard to see in what way transportation will be improved by a few streetcars that don't go anywhere worth speaking of.
One of my sweet aunts once ran smack into the front door of a streetcar on Wisconsin Avenue and in court she testified, "It snuck right up on me," as she gunned forth from O Street.
It jammed the streetcar door and people had to go out the back and it was rather a mess, but I believe the court was so impressed by a citizen -- the only one within 25 miles -- who could be "snuck up on" by the megadecibel monster that they let her off easy.
Mortals of lesser concentration than my aunt, who later smashed through the plate-glass window of a Georgetown bookstore with her new car while thinking on lofty matters, may have had some reservations about streetcars, but my aunt is the only one in the world who ever failed to hear them coming, about half an hour before they actually arrived.
Trolleys my eye. It's just what Dupont Circle and Georgetown need. Both neighborhoods are free-fire zones, with woodcutters from Massachusetts and alligator salesmen from Florida in rapt quandary before an arrow that points right when they wish to go left (and they go left, of course, after 247 seconds of thought) to say nothing of the ladies at the end of Wisconsin who cannot imagine what happened to that restaurant they used to like so much -- dear me, what was the name, no, not the one with waiters on skates but -- just back up, Irene, I think we must have passed it. Screech.
Georgetown would not want a subway, mind you, because you just really never know who might come. But are trolleys the answer? What if Dupont Circle came?
As it happens I have lived both on Dupont Circle and at 30th and P streets and relinquish all my rights to both neighborhoods to my successors. The circle is still excellent for people under 30 years of age and Georgetown is still excellent for both the house-bound and the deaf. I especially loved Georgetown, which I frequently point to as the nation's best example of what a little paint and pride can do for a slum. Admittedly, most people with brains better than ducks' left Georgetown in the 1950s but fortunately the craze for Victoriana saved the real estate, and new people from Utah were found to excite themselves with the inferior plumbing and superior rats of the neighborhood.
My only real quibble with the proposed trolleys is whether they are authentic. Georgetown has stopped thinking of itself as an 1880 warren and started thinking of itself as a 1780 enclave of gentlemen's residences.
This being so, one questions trolleys. I think water transport would be better. If they must get to Dupont Circle, perhaps a combination canal and reflecting pool right down N Street would be the thing, with a portage at the Q Street Bridge. Inconvenient, yes, but convenience has never been the goal here.
While the canal is being constructed, there should be dog-cart emergency services with terminals at the Euram Building and Martin's. (It is not generally known that the Department of Transportation Library has any number of dog books, dating from the era of Mr. Greg Patchen, a devoted laborer within the bureaucracy who also was a great lover of the dog.)
But man's best friend can lug only so many heavy types in one cart, which brings me to the best idea yet. Why should there not be parallel fences running down the center of, say, R Street, preserving a six-foot strip for the use of persons with roller skates? Bicycles are too dangerous, but the skaters would be protected by the little guard fences on either side. They should be cast iron, and should form a real museum of ornamental ironwork of the past century.
The skaters would be debouched on the little triangle (already there; no tax money needed) of concrete where Massachusetts Avenue meets Dupont Circle by the Riggs Bank.
The fact that my ideas are possibly better, in terms both of efficiency and charm, than the idea of the trolleys, should stir no acrimony. Let a thousand flowers bloom.
Is it too much to demand, in this high purpose of getting people from Dupont Circle to Georgetown, that we should have the trolleys, the carts, the skating zone and the barge traffic all at once?
I cannot, however, approve the project (in the wings, I believe) for heliports at the Washington Club and Weaver's Hardware. Perfect locations, yes, but no helicopters, please, unless the copters looked like the Irish State carriage that the queen rides in, and unless the propellers were decently clothed with a red silk canopy.