Stolen Streetcar Taken on Joy Ride

What an awesome headline … we have to share this one with GoDCers.

Washington Post headline - October 28th, 1957

Washington Post headline – October 28th, 1957

On October 28th, 1957, the Washington Post reported on a bizarre incident, where a man took a streetcar for an illegal joyride on Pennsylvania Ave. You have to read this to believe it.

Clayton Morgan, Jr.

Clayton Morgan, Jr.

Clayton Morgan Jr., 40, of 1602 4th st. nw., was charged yesterday with stealing an empty streetcar and taking it on a 60-mile-an-hour ride up Pennsylvania ave. se. from Barney Circle.

The streetcar smashed give automobiles, injuring one driver, before it jumped the tracks at the turn into Independence ave., at 2nd st. se. and came to a halt broadside, its rear wheels dug into the pavements.

Capitol Police Lt. Albert Samuels said he found Morgan on his knees on the floor of the darkened streetcar and thought he was a passenger until he saw there was no one else aboard.

Police said Morgan, a laborer, laughed and remarked:

“I ought to go out to National Airport–it looks like I’d make a better jet pilot than a trolley driver.”

The streetcar operator, Lawrence W. Kenney, 23, of 17423 Astoria Lane, Silver Spring said he had a short break at Barney Circle before taking the Route 30 car to the barn, and went into a lunchroom for a container of coffee. He did not take out his “reverse bar,” a disconnecting mechanism operators frequently remove when they leave the car.

Kenney said that as he was coming out he saw the trolley swing around Barney Circle “so fast the wheels were coming off the tracks.”

Kenney said he dropped his coffee, ran a short distance up the Avenue, then ran back into the lunchroom to call D.C. Transit workers and tell them to shut off the third-rail power.

As Kenney was calling, the streetcar clipped the rear of an automobile at 15th st. se., spinning it around. The driver, Harry W. Edelin, 70, of West Beach, Md., was uninjured.

The streetcar sped on past astonished would be passengers.

Finally at Independence ave., it jumped the tracks and rammed a station wagon driven by Mahmoud Haririr, 31, of Landover Mills, Md., an editor for the United States Information Agency, knocking the car 15 feet into two parked autos. The streetcar came to rest against another parked car on the avenue opposite the Library of Congress.

Police Lt. Samuels, who was having coffee in a nearby lunchroom, said the crash “sounded like two cars colliding head-on at full speed.”

He ran to the scene, arriving only a minute before Metropolitan Police, who informed him the streetcar was stolen. Samuels, who had been administering aid to Hariri, ordered Morgan not to leave, whereupon Morgan broke into a run, he said. Samuels, Fifth Precinct Pvt. Lewis Hines and other police overtook him after a short chase.

Hariri was admitted to D.C. General Hospital overnight for treatment of head cuts and chest injuries.

Morgan was booked on charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle, unreasonable speed, and leaving the scene of an accident.

An emergency crew jacked the trolley back on the track and a truck towed it to the Southern Division Barn at Maine ave. and O st. nw.

Don’t try this at home folks. It ends badly.

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  • Bill Simmons

    Proof that they will steal anything that is not nailed down.