Jul 7, 2022
During the winter of 1895, the main thoroughfare of Atlantic Avenue was set upon by work crews from City Hall, who - in preparation for the approaching 20th Century - sought to improve the quality of the road surfaces and allow for increased traffic. The works were scheduled to last no longer than two months - but, thanks to mismanagement, bad luck, and direct appropriation of funds - the project stretched languorously into the summer of 1896: the year of the heatwave.
“What a disaster,” wrote Elliott Callahan. “The wheels of carts, of automobiles, sinking into the asphalt as it melted on the streets. Confused horses. Shouting patrons. Great columns of immobilised travellers, the length of the avenue.”
From the relative safety of the boardwalk, far from the sounds of the work crews, the organ grinders were known to sing:
Oh once, long ago, I knew peace in my heart,
I would rise with the sun and the birds!
But now I am stuck in the back of a cart,
And my anger surpasses my words.
Last springtime I met a remarkable gem,
In the summer, my thoughts turned romantic.
I would love to revisit my sweetheart again,
But I can’t find my way off Atlantic.
Perhaps I have been here for thirty five years.
Suspended ’twixt horror and prayer.
Perhaps when the horrible traffic jam clears,
I will find and imprison the mayor!
I will find and imprison the mayor of Bluff,
Just as soon as I’m out of the fray!
I can see City Hall just ahead, sure enough,
But there’s forty nine cars in the way.
Help! Help! Help! Help! I can’t find my way off Atlantic!
Help! Help! Help me! Help! I can’t find my way off Atlantic! (x2)
Featuring: Austin Walker, Art Martinez-Tebbel, Jack de Quidt, Janine Hawkins and Keith J Carberry
Music & Description by Jack de Quidt
Mall Kids is available at https://mr-matthew.itch.io/mall-kids