The Big Screecher takes a train for the first time in 25 years

MTA rehab allows columnist to take subway for the first time in a quarter century

Brooklyn Daily
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Big Screecher comes face-to-face with his sworn enemy — stairs! And he lost his hat. What rotten luck!
What's this? An elevator? Now Carmine — and his trusty scooter, Tornado — can make the trip to Coney Island and grab the one thing he desires above all others — hotdogs. Also, he found his hat! Things are really looking up now.
A ramp, too? That’s right, Carmine, the whole station is Tornado accessible.
Who does the Old Screecher run into while waiting for the subway, but Assemblyman William Colton! The assemblyman has heard the communty's complaints, when they yelled, "Give Carmine an elevator!"
Carmine throttles Tornado tepidly, rolling onto the D train in fits and spurts. It is the first time Carmine has set wheel on a train in 25 years.
After Carmine departs the train at Coney Island, still somewhat dazed from the ordeal, he takes some time to complain about how most train entrances are too high off the platform for Tornado.
Some, however, are just right, Big Screecher explained.
Finally, after two more elevator rides, and a very long exit ramp, Carmine lands in good-old Coney Island...
...home of Nathan's, and their world famous frank furters! Carmine had two dogs with everthing, an order of french fries, and a coke. If the food doesn't kill him, rest assured, his wife will — Big Screecher is on a very strict diet.

There’s no stopping the Big Screecher now!

The MTA snipped the ribbon on a renovated Bay Parkway D train station replete with ramps and a new elevator on Thursday, allowing Courier Life columnist Carmine Santa Maria — better known to scores of readers as the Big Screecher — to take his first subway ride in more than 25 years.

Carmine was clearly excited, and a bit nervous, as he rolled his trusty scooter Tornado onto the new elevator, taking him to the el platform at 86th Street.

Within a few minutes, he was back on the rails, taking a Coney Island-bound D train to the People’s Playground.

The Big Screecher marveled at the changes technology has wrought on the city’s transit system over the past two decades.

“There’s air conditioni­ng,” he gasped.

And the train was clean, too — at least compared to the graffiti-strewn subway cars the Big Screecher rode in 1987.

“I can see out the windows,” Carmine exclaimed. “It’s incredible!”

Carmine’s adventure only lasted three stops, but it was a memorable trip for Brooklyn Daily’s favorite curmudgeon, who just recently celebrated the MTA’s decision to bring the B64 back to Harway Avenue with a heaping serving of cake.

The Big Screecher’s been to Coney Island before, of course — in fact he was there in June to go mermaid watching — but he hasn’t taken the subway to the amusement district in decades because he couldn’t get Tornado up the stairs to the 86th Street el line, the closest train to his home.

But the MTA’s $88-million rehab project that upgraded D train stations between 71st Street and New Utrecht Avenue and Bay 50th Street and Stillwell Avenue changed all that.

Santa Maria’s ride came to an end when his D train screeched to a halt at the Stillwell Avenue station. But his quest ended with a suitable reward — a Nathan’s Famous hot dog on the Boardwalk!

Yet the freedom frankfurter was a bit too rich for Carmine’s tastes.

“They’re $3.75 a piece now,” he complained. “I can’t afford any more!”

Hey, they don’t call him the Big Screecher for nothing.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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