Ooh, luvverly stuff---both the buses and the trams! Many of my childhood fantasies were of standing on the driver's tram platforn and rotating that bright lever on its column. Or clicking the thingammyjig up into place onto the power line when the terminus was reached and the tram had to reverse its direction. (Please forgive my lack of aquaintance with the technical terms, listers. Joe, supply them please!)
I still am a "tram-fan", but unfortunately there aren't any around here. I liked their racket and their motion and when I lived in the Wellington area in the early 1960s I found them to be faster than other transport as they had a conductor. Hereabouts you have to pay as you enter buses and trolleybuses, and this makes their progress slower.
And have you ever travelled on a trolleybus where the driver is behind schedule and getting increasingly furious? I have and I lost count of how many times the "pole" came off as we skittled too wildly around corners. The driver didn't seem to appreciate that he was making things worse for himself!
The drawback about the trams was that you risked both life and limb in these post war days of increased and impatient traffic. The trams, you see, operate in the centre of the road! So, having prayed for a safe passage you make a run for it!
I never fantasized about the buses, though. Probably because by then I was older, as with the tram tracks decimated in the Blitz there was no question of restoring this service.
In the postwar redevelopment and retooling of the factories my father became a bus driver. The smartest one sartorically, in the city! I will brook no argument on that point! He was tall, handsome, and with years in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a lad smartness became so ingrained that he could've looked well turned out in a sack! He was a good driver, too.
Newer buses were trickling onto the scene and I well remember Dad's gratitude when the first power-assisted steering ones came out. There were one or two tight turns and narrow streets on clearing the centre of the city ---- I think that the turn into Little Park Street on the Cheylesmore route was one instance, and it was common to see a sweating driver, with arms whirling like windmill sails attempting to haul these older monsters around these hazards.
The Coventry livery of cream and maroon, with elephant and castle coat of arms on the side, was so smart. We all craved the front seat on the upper deck for its splendid vistas. Coventry conductors and conductresses had a silver coloured ticket machine, on which they dialled the amount, turned a handle and out rolled a white printed ticket. Quite different from the Midland Red where a ticket from a colourful array was selected and punched.
Now don't be too surprised will you when I tell you that some years ago in a toyshop in New Zealand I was looking along shelves of model vehicles, when I spotted a familiar sight! Yes, it was a Matchbox Model from the "Modes of Yesteryear". It was in the correct livery and adorned with a tiny coat of arms. A Leyland, TDI, a model first introduced in 1929, (two years before I was born).
I HAD to have it --- but lacked the wherewithal at the time. So what did I do --- I put it on layby and paid it off over the next weeks.
As I collected it I was surprised to find myself reduced to sniffing to hold back the tears!!! It was nostalgia for a way of life that I'd left behind, many years before. And sadly, it had quite gone, as I found on my brief return in April 2000.
But Joe----we have our memories! Thankyou for sharing yours. Dorothy will be as delighted as I was, to recall the Coventry scene as it was.