My Autobiography by Michael Normandy, Sr.

Alongside of the stove there was a metal oil can with a connecting tube that fed oil into the burners. This innovative idea did away with the coal scuttle and shovel, the removal of ashes under the coal grates, and the storage of at least a half ton of anthracite coal which was stored in the cellar.

Coal Cellar Door at 37 Conselyea Street

We didn’t have basements, finished or otherwise. We did have coal cellars, wine cellars, and storage cellars where each tenant had a small cubicle for his own use. It was a crude wooden clapboard "closet" with a door, secured by a padlock.

A daily chore consisted of going to the cellar to get enough coal for the day from the coal pile, or fill the two and one half gallon kerosene tank for the oil stove. For some unknown reason or rule, this replenishing of fuel could only take place in the cold, dark hours before breakfast or work, usually 5 o’clock in the morning, or earlier!

In the house at 184 Maujer Street, the cellar could be reached by using a stairway off the common hallway. At 37 Conselyea Street, this cellar was accessible from the outside cellar door. Darkness, snow and ice, and an eye on the clock for a timely departure to the "trolley" car or subway, did not make this an event to look forward to. 

This is like the trolley car we used to take on Metropolitan Avenue.
It was a streetcar that worked electrically by current taken from an
overhead conducting wire. After awhile they were replaced by buses.

When I was in my late teenage years, I dared to ask - no, suggest, that we time our fuel ritual to late in the afternoon or early evening. Dad, who was all-knowing, but very traditional, said it couldn’t be done. Asking why not was out of the question. It just couldn’t be done! But I am way ahead of myself by ten or twelve years.

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Now Playing: "The Trolley Song"

Performed by Judy Garland

From the Movie "Meet Me in St. Louis"

Original Cast Recording


With my high-starched collar and my high-top shoes

And my hair piled high upon my head

I went to lose a jolly hour on the trolley

And lost my heart instead

With his light brown derby and his bright green tie

He was quite the handsomest of men

I started to yen, so I counted to ten

Then I counted to ten again

Clang, clang, clang, went the trolley

Ding, ding, ding, went the bell

Zing, zing, zing, went my heartstrings

From the moment I saw him I fell

Chug, chug, chug, went the motor

Bump, bump, bump, went the brake

Thump, thump, thump, went my heartstrings

When he smiled I could feel the car shake

He tipped his hat and took a seat

He said he hoped he hadn't stepped upon my feet

He asked my name, I held my breath

I couldn't speak because he scared me half to death

Buzz, buzz, buzz, went the buzzer

Flop, flop, flop, went the wheels

Stop, stop, stop, went my heartstrings

As he started to go then I started to know how it feels

When the universe reels

The day was bright, the air was sweet

The smell of honeysuckle charmed you off your feet

You tried to sing but couldn't speak

In fact you loved him so you couldn't even speak

Buzz, buzz, buzz, went the buzzer

Flop, flop, flop, went the wheels

Stop, stop, stop, went my heartstrings

As he started to leave, I took hold of his sleeve with my hand

And as if it were planned

He stayed on with me

And it was grand just to stand

With his hand holding mine

To the end of the line

Clang, clang, clang, went the trolley

Clang, clang, clang, went the trolley

Zing, zing, zing, went my heart



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