growing up in chicago we had trolleys on clark st and I remember when they were replaced by smelly diesel power.
our related prank: on lawrence ave the buses were OH electric powered but did not run on tracks. one of us would stand at the bus stop. when the driver pulled over and stopped the accomplices would pull the connecting wires off the OH wires, they were held to the cables by spring tension. we would run like the devil and meet at the snack shop and relive our adventure. the bus driver would have to put the connectors back in place. of course he was angry but we rationalized our misdeed by thinking he might have done something similar when he was a boy.
co-authoring with the wonderful old gentleman, soon to be 87. He joined up in 1941, and went through the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which trained 170,000 airmen, nearly half of whom were American. Turns out that Americans were given special dispensation to serve with the RCAF without losing their citizenship, which would have been the case in any other nation's service.
But that's not what I wanted to talk about. He describes his childhood and youth in Copper Cliff, Ontario, about 5 miles or so from Sudbury, and talks about the pranks that he and his friends pulled in the streetcars (trolleys) on the way to school. One of their tricks was to jump up and down all together at the same time and make the front wheels jump the tracks, or to press the emergency alarm very gently to bleed off the air pressure, and so leave the trolley without any brakes. This caused the trolley to go shooting through an intersection at the bottom of a hill against the lights. What were mere pranks in the 1930's would be juvenile delinquency today. When did we lose our senses of humor and our sense of proportion over the actions of kids?
When Robbie was in primary school a friend, one of two schoolteachers in their family, had a very useful sentence he used to use on his kids, and which we quickly adopted. It went: "Stop acting like a 5 year old" (or whatever the actual age of the child was). It was useful on two levels, it gave the kids a gentle warning that they were getting close to the limits of tolerance, but it also reminded the parent who said it that the child was indeed only 5 (or whatever) and was behaving perfectly normally, and perhaps he, the parent, should lighten up.
It's useful even now. If I say to myself, "Stop acting like a 60 year old" it reminds me that curmudgeonhood is right around the corner if I don't guard against it, and retain my sense of humor.