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SubTalk: Not Rats Again! We Need a Modern-Day Smelly Kelly. (Was: Lower 42 Street) (309795)

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Not Rats Again! We Need a Modern-Day Smelly Kelly. (Was: Lower 42 Street)

Posted by Tunnel Rat on Thu Jan 10 12:16:30 2002, in response to Re: Lower 42 Street,
posted by Chris R27-R30 on Thu Jan 10 10:27:51 2002.

Ah, yes---the rats! Now they have that entire level to themselves and, if the station is the same as it was back in the 1970's and 1980's, have plenty of food on which to feast since there was always a TON of trash thrown in and around the collection bins. The closet areas on the side of the platform were holding areas for all the trash generated throughout the entire 42nd St.subway complex. Maintenance guys would tell me horror stories of the rats getting in to the electrical areas and gnawing on the wires as if they were sticks of licorice. I know, I know--I did a post on rats not too long ago, but after all I'm Tunnel Rat!

The old timers here on ST may well remember Smelly Kelly, the Depression-Era smell-detecting sleuth of the subways. A legend among the many men of subway lore, he and his super-sensitive sniffer were often employed to detect strong scents and odors in the tunnels that often-times spelled serious danger. Many gas and chemical leaks were located and remedied thanks to Kelly and his reliance on special instruments and yes, seriously, his schnozz. He also was able to discern if a stinky stench was harmful or not simply by nose thus preventing needless time and expense in the course of remedial action. An example of the more "benign" odors found were those of decaying dead rats. There were countless times when the general public would mistake the malodor of rat with a more malevolent source.

There was a book written years ago that devoted many pages to Smelly Kelly. I don't recall the title, but it told of many aspects of NYC underground. As a young man, I recall taking this book out of the NY Public Library quite often. The above is from what I remembered reading in said book and also from my father, who worked as a top-level maintenance man for the TA for 40 years plus.

Does any ST'er know the title/author of the book?

Tunnel Rat


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