Fast Past: An Anecdote

Elsie Karlak

As I work on my map behind the scenes, I thought I’d share a little story from my days as a MUNI youngster. Both of my parents worked so I got sent to a million different summer camps, which kept me from being one of those sad and lonely latch key kids you see in the movies. (Do you even watch movies?) One of my most frequented camps was Y Camp, run by the YMCA Embarcadero. My dad worked downtown at the time so, every morning we would take the Underground together to get downtown.

These were the days before Clipper, so I’d get a paper ticket every day, which I never failed to fold into a paper airplane. I loved those train rides with my dad – they were amazing chances for us to joke around and bond. One of my favorite inside jokes that we created over those long summers was the complete renaming of all the underground stations from Castro to Embarcadero. It started with Montgomery which I thought sounded like “gum tree” (I had just read one of the Magic Tree House books that was set in Australia – do you even read books?). So the renaming began.

Every day we would brainstorm names for stations we hadn’t named yet and announce the new names whenever we pulled into a station. Montgomery became Gum Tree Station, Embarcadero became Barking Seal, and Castro became Catfish (while still announcing either the beginning of or end of one of our trips). My favorite name of them all was Squiggle Center, which is what we called Civic Center station. Even now, when I take the underground, I’ll refer to the stations by the names we came up with – even if it’s only to myself.

PS: Hope y’all like my featured image, which I worked very hard on, so positive feedback only please!